Economic hardship exacts a toll on millions of families worldwide – and in some places, it comes at the price of a child’s rights and safety. Globally, roughly 160 million children were subjected to labor at the beginning of 2020, with 9 million additional children at risk due to the impact of COVID-19. This accounts for nearly 1 in 10 children worldwide.

Most often, child labor occurs when families face financial challenges or uncertainty. The consequences are staggering. In nearly every case, it cuts a child off from schooling and health care, restricting his fundamental rights and threatening his future.

In June 2020, HPP Baltic and HPP India signed an agreement with the lead organization Sympany, the Netherlands’ company, for the project against child labor in the second-hand textile recycle chain. 70% of the project expenditures would be covered by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

The Project focuses on eliminating child labor, especially those aged 5 to 16 years from the post-consumer textile recycling manufacturing, which is situated in Ward No. 23 near Model Town and Sector 6 of Panipat. The area of operation has a rough estimated population of 30 000. There are about 65 big factories and 85 to 100 medium-sized factories in this area. Nearly 150 smaller production units are established in nearby clusters.

The Project started in August 2020 with HPP India identifying links within the second-hand clothes flow where child labor is spreading unchecked once the sorted clothes enter the Indian market for further processing. Following the identification process, HPP India would work towards getting the identified 250 children out of factories and into the Step-Up centers (bridge schooling centers) wherein the children would be brought to their age-appropriate level of education and further on mainstreamed into government or private schools.

HPP India will also strive towards providing care and education to the younger children who accompany their mothers to factories and, in the process, will create awareness and sensitization on issues of, e.g., education, daily wages, day care, bank accounts and personal identification documents.

In 2020-2021, the project partners mapped the targeted second-hand textile industries in India and developed a proposal for the next phase what would be implemented from July 2021 to June 2024.