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India: childrenforhire.com

Children for hire, it’s a name that speaks for itself. We wondered if building a website would be too bold a step given that no one had tried something so drastic within the non-profit sector in India, which also led to not knowing how the audience would react to the idea.

Now looking back, it was a risk worth taking. With close to 12.6 million children (Census 2001) engaged in child labour in the country, something radical was required to draw immediate attention to a big embarrassment in a country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

I still remember when we began to conceptualize an online strategy for Anti-Child Labour Day. Irwin (Director of Marketing & Fundraising, Save the Children, India Office) and I had a long conversation over the phone on how do we engage people in the cause, and how to ensure that we communicate the seriousness of such a situation.

childrenforhire.com was born on a sultry day at our office in Delhi. The page layout was kept intentionally close to any e-commerce site so as to give it a genuine touch, leaving the visitor thinking that it is something serious. When the visitor clicks through they go to a pledge page, asking them to sign up to eliminate child labour from India.

The strong reactions to our campaign on Twitter and the thousands of pledges reflect the success of this campaign. There were so many challenges that we faced, like Facebook and Twitter pulling our page off and Google taking out our Text ads, terming them as controversial. This came as a big blow, but we were ready for it. Our conviction and strong case that we presented has even forced Google to bring our ads back.

They rightly say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Slightly tweaked, I’d say conviction and belief kept us going!


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