Recently a reviewer pointed out that both my Islesong and Shioni of Sheba series deal in with the issue of child slavery. What's the deal? Shioni is a slave to the Princess of West Sheba and wears a collar stamped with the Lion of Sheba. Zhialeiana, the main character of IsleSong, is sold to the Harbourmaster of Germioi Central Atoll to work off the price of her contract.
That comment set me thinking. Why do I write about this particular issue? Well, simply put, it is because this is a reality I see every day as I live and work in Ethiopia, and it is a reality around the world. For example, Compassion.com notes that 1 in 6 children in developing countries (5 to 14 years old) is involved in child labour. Around the world, 126 million children work in hazardous and demeaning conditions. That is more than the entire population of Ethiopia. The figures for child poverty are far more staggering - 21,000 children under 5 die every day. And this is apparently not newsworthy.
So next time I stop at the street corner and have my shoes shined by an eager boy, and hand over my couple of Ethiopian Birr that will buy him bread, I'll think about who he is, why he's out there, and what I can do to make even just just a small difference every day.