The students at Ragho Mengwar School in the Thar Desert in Pakistan have been looking forward to their Global Vote Day for weeks. They celebrate the day with a party where they eat rice and then dance and play games. Before the children go home they all get tea and biscuits.
In September, the rain is pouring in the desert. Many children become homeless when their families’ mud houses collapse. The rain keeps on falling, and the desert floods. When their school collapses, the children are devastated. Their families now have to borrow money to survive, and the children risk becoming debt slaves.Excitement in the air! The atmosphere is full of expectation. Some girls paint the final brushstrokes on the ballot box, made from a big empty can. Students flick through copies of The Globe, discussing it in small groups. Everyone is wearing their finest clothes, with their hair combed. Some former students, who have quit school, come to visit. They have been kept informed over the last couple of weeks and they know they’re allowed to join in and vote as long as they have found out about the candidates. The gathering begins with the students jointly telling the stories of this year’s candidates and why they have been nominated. The prize candidates are heroes and the children have spent the last few weeks discussing their work.
Many debt slave families The children at Ragho Mengwar School come from poor families. When it’s not raining, the families are often forced to take jobs working in fields or brick factories. Many people take out loans from the factory owners or have debts with the village shopkeeper, and whole family become debt slaves. Children at school and in neighbouring villages also work weaving carpets. Now that the flooding has destroyed everything, many families have to take out new loans and more children risk being forced to work as debt slaves.