Sacred Trust

There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children.
There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected,
that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want
and that they can grow up in peace.
– Kofi Annan


For the past three decades as I traveled the world on assignment I
 have witnessed children working in fields, factories, ditches, tunnels,
mines, and ship-breaking yards.


The scope of the problem is vast.
Hundreds of millions of children spend their 

childhood working and do not have an opportunity to
play, go to school, or live in a healthy environment.

Kandahar, Afghanistan

Amid attempts to protect elephants from ivory poachers and dolphins
from tuna nets,
the rights of children go remarkably unremarked.
– Anna Quindlen

Mandalay, Burma

Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together,
and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the
social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor
to the end of time.
–  Grace Abbott

Mindanao, Philippines
Mumbai, India
Pul-i-Khumri, Afghanistan
Marpha, Nepal, 1998
Marpha, Nepal

The object of employing children is not to train them,
but to get high profits from their work.

– Lewis Hine, 1908


Child labor perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy,
population growth, and other social problems.
– Kailash Satyarthi

Rajasthan, India
_2SM8311; India, 04/2012
00018_02.Millet Farmer, the Sahel, Niger, 1995 The Unguarded Moment


Kabul, Afghanistan


The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labor as work that is
mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children;
and interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine
school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.



By Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.

To read more about Steve go to

25 replies on “Sacred Trust”

Thank you for reminding us to keep the plight of children front and centre and doing so visually has so much power . I have enjoyed and been challenged by your thoughts and photography for years .. a picture truly is worth many words

Very sad and heart breaking post . Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here.Thank you Stevebhai for making us aware

This is indeed a very sad and hear breaking post. Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here.
Thank you for sharing Stevebhai. and raising awareness

These photos are beautiful and brutal. The problem is so complex, as sometimes these kids have to work to support the family. But these kids almost always work in unfair and hazardous conditions, and all kids should be in school, not working.

Our children have no idea how children work so hard from a very early age, yet mostly they have a smile on their faces when photographed. Always such real life images, thank you for bringing the lives of others into my life.

It is truly an awful crime. In general, in the developed countries, people do more for dogs and cats than they do for the homeless, and hungry children. So sad, but it’s important for people like you to show the problem openly and clearly.

These are some of the saddest photos you’ve posted. I thank you for challenging my sense of world responsibility. I am inspired to to help end this
Will act on how I can best contribute to end child labor.

Thank you for this post. I have long admired your work. Now child labour is a complicated issue. (I have lived in the third world for quite a while). A vicious circle of sorts. Many children can only find subsistence if they work. Then they don’t go to school and never get out of the vicious circle.
Some solutions have been implemented here and there. School in the morning (or afternoon) and work in the fields the other half of the day. Not sure what is the right solution. Anyway. Thanks again for the post.

Oh what a powerful post on today’s bitter truth. You have really captured all the feelings about poverty, child labor and a politics that is not ok in our world! Thanks for sharing.

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