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Core Marchers


Core Marchers

 Govind Khanal- , a former child labourer from Nepal, freed by BBA in 1996 rehabilitated and educated by the organization. During his time of recovering his life back in the rehabilitation centre (Mukti Ashram) was trained and exposed as a true youth leader across many countries during Global March in 1998. He proved his capabilities by handling responsible positions in remotest villages. Govind is now been selected as one of the National Secretaries of BBA.   

Devli

Eight year old Devli is exuberant. For the first time in her life she tasted the fruits of freedom. She is singing, dancing and playing with the other children at the Balika Ashram in Delhi. Her life is a tale of pain, torture and sufferings. She was born in bondage. Her grandparents and parents were also bonded laboureres. She did not have a house of her own and no place to look up to. BBA activists rescued her along with 100 others in a dare devil raid in Charkhi Dadri stone quarries of Haryana on 15th June 2003. Despite repeated pleas from BBA, the district administration did not give the release certificates to the released labourers. BBA enrolled the released children in its transit rehabilitation centres.

Devli is today a happy and charming young girl. Apart from studies she is also doing well in extracurricular and cultural activities and participates in all the events organized by BBA. She exclaims,” No child should ever be held in bondage. I shall strive to release all children from the evil of bondage.”

Omprakash

“This is our right - that (adults) have to listen. This is children's rights. And if they are not abiding with that right, we will work harder to make them hear.”  fourteen-year-old boy from the Jaipur region in India, won the prize because of his brave fight against child labour and child slavery. The Children’s Peace Prize was awarded by Frederik Willem De Klerk, former President of South Africa, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize together with Nelson Mandela.These words became inspiration for many activists all around the world.

His accomplishments are endless and showed leadership quality in every programme  he was part of.  In 2004 he was the head of the children’s assembly of his school. All students were asked to pay fees. He raised his voice against this practice and approached the sub-divisional magistrate. A petition was filed in the Jaipur Court and consequently the court passed the judgment that all the money taken from the parents should be returned to them. Om Prakash also played an instrumental role in making his home-village a “Bal Mitra Gram” (Child Friendly Village) and since then has worked to increase the number of these Child Friendly Villages. Another special achievement of Om Prakash is that he mobilized more than 500 birth registrations on his own. He did so by visiting schools and villages and convincing people about the importance of birth registration: it gives the right to a name and nationality; it gives all the rights provided by the nation, the right to be free from all forms of exploitation, the right to education and the right to health care, economic privileges, like the opportunity to work, to open a bank account, social security and a pension. And also political privileges such as the right to vote.  
         
Puran Banjara-, 13, is from Village-Salmania, Post-Baroda, Dist-Shyopur, Madhya Pradesh, India. He has 6 brothers and 1 sister. Neither Puran’s mother nor his father can read or write.

Puran started working with his parents in the stone quarries of Haryana and Rajasthan when he was only 6 years old. He broke stones and loaded them into trucks, and dug pits for underground cable along the road, 11 hours a day (from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.), 7 days a week for 3 years. More than half the day, he worked on an empty stomach because he had no breakfast. He only had one 15-minute break for lunch at 1:00 p.m. The working conditions were very unhygienic and harsh. Puran still bears a scar on his knee from breaking stones without protective gear.

As part of an on-going campaign to identify and rescue bonded children, one day, activists from the Bal Ashram, a rehabilitation center run by Bachpan Bachao Andolan found Puran and his brothers working in stone quarries. On pursuing the case of Puran and younger brother and realizing the indebted and harsh conditions of labour, the activists were able to convince Devi Ram to consent to let Puran and his brothers to leads a free life and get education at the Bal Ashram. 

Puran now lives with other children who have also been victims of child labor and are receiving educational and vocational training at the Bal Ashram in Viratnagar, District-Jaipur (Rajasthan). At the Ashram, Puran learned slogans, educational songs and street plays. He is part of the cultural team that performs folk theatre to generate awareness of social issues, including child labor. He participates in demonstrations and marches to highlight prevailing social problems in the local area, and helps organize rallies to enroll out-of-school children in school and design campaigns to boycott fireworks and other products manufactured using child labor.

Puran plays and active role in the implementation of Bal Mitra Gram (child- friendly villages) near the Ashram. When he return to his own village, Puran will try to make it a child-friendly village, which aims to eliminate child labor and enroll all children in school through active community participation and the establishment of a children’s parliament.

Puran believes that he can accomplish whatever he wants to do. For now, he wants to concentrate on his studies. He recently completed final exams for 8th grade. Eventually, he would like to attain a higher education and join the army. He wants to become "an army man."Puran thinks that the best way to help him and other child laborers to achieve their dreams is to make friends with them and convince them to go to school. Education is most important for children. "Every child should have access to free, compulsory, quality and meaningful education," he says. "It is essential for children to go to schools."

Kalu

Kalu, now 17 years old and a former goat-herd from Bihar, was abducted and bonded into the carpet industry. Kalu has the distinction of being invited by the then President of the United States, Bill Clinton, to launch a book on child labour. Kalu also has it to his credit that he told Clinton, “I have been freed from bondage, but several of my brothers and sisters are still languishing in it.” And had then asked him: “There are 250 million child laborers in the world, what are you doing about it?”

The irony is that Kalu and other children like him should not have worked on Carpet looms in the first place according to laws passed in 1986. India banned the employment of children younger than 14 years in more than a dozen industries including carpet. This law is broken often with impunity.

Kalu was brought to the Ashram and after undergoing rehabilitation was sent back home. However he was unable to continue with his schooling due to poor economic conditions and came back to the ashram again where he was initially admitted to the formal school in Sauthana. He got good grades in his school and would now be appearing for his 10th standard exams through open school. He enjoys every moment of his life at the Ashram. His exposures abroad have instilled an abundance of confidence in him. He wants to be a social worker when he grows up, working for the upliftment of the rural poor – exactly how and in what form, he is not too sure at the moment.

Witty Kalu; an incredible actor, Kalu; a fast and intelligent learner - Kalu. Said that by coming to the Ashram he felt like being born again. He said that his potentials wouldn’t have been realized, had he still been a goat-herd, an agricultural laborer in his village or a morally devastated carpet weaver in a far-flung place. He wouldn’t have had the courage to look an urban stranger in the eye and give humorous answers to all the questions? Laughing away past humiliations and looking forward to a glorious future

Suraj

Suraj 12 year old lived in Bihar with his family when 5 years back Ramchandra Sada (middleman) took me to a person called Dilbagh Singh in Punjab. Dilbagh Singh sent him to his relative, Harjeet Singh’s place, where Suraj had to take care of the cattle and work in the fields. Suraj was further sent to Harjeet Singh’s brother-in-law, Sonu’s house where he worked for 2 years doing the household chores as well as taking care of the cattle which included feeding the cattle, milking the cattle, collecting cattle dung as well as bathing the cattle.

Suraj had to work half-empty stomach as he was insufficiently fed by his employer. His employer was ruthless enough to put kerosene oil in Suraj’s wound and tie it with a piece of cloth instead of taking him to a doctor.

After 2 years, Suraj was sent back to Harjeet Singh where he again worked for 2 years from four in the morning to one or two in the night taking care of the cattle and the fields. The employer not only verbally abused Suraj regularly but also physically abused him. Though Suraj changed employers, his working conditions never changed.

Suraj used to be given tea with opium to dull the pain and in the night he used to be forcefully given 2 pegs of alcohol, so that they could work without feeling cold in the biting winters of Punjab.

Suraj gained his on 11th April 2006 when he was rescued by BBA activists in a raid and rescue operation. 

Subhash Sada

Subhash Sada 13 years old lived in abject poverty in Bihar with his family which included his unemployed father, his mother, two brothers and a sister.  Around five to six years back one Mr. Ramchandra Sada (middleman) beguiled Subhash’s mother into sending her son with him to work for good money and a better future. Ramchandra Sada took Subhash and 4-5 other children with him to a person called Dilbagh Singh alias Baagi Singh in a village called Bodh in Amritsar, Punjab. Subhash was told by the middleman that he would get money from Dilbagh Singh for the labour he provided. There was another boy working with him. Dilbagh Singh owned around 30-35 cows and buffaloes and Subhash had to take care of them from five in the morning to 11 in the night. In the morning, Subhash had to cut fodder in a manually operative machine and feed the cattle. He had to milk the cattle, collect the cow and buffalo dung as well as bathe the cattle. He also had to monitor the watering of 6-7 acres of farmland as well as put manure in the vast fields.

After a hard days work, Subhash was given stale food consisting of one roti (bread) and dal (pulses), that also only once in a day at five in the evening. Many a times he was asked to water the fields at night in the bitter cold winter which made his hands and feet go numb. He was physically abused for any delays or mistakes. He was also verbally abused which he disliked the most.

Subhash was also forced to drink alcohol at night by his employer to enable him to work in the field in the bitter cold. He was also sometimes served tea containing local drug during the daytime to enable him to work without feeling tired. Subhash was never allowed to rest or taken to the doctor when he was ill and was given the old torn clothes of his employer’s children. He was never allowed to visit his parents in his village. Every time that he would ask for permission, Subhash was told that he was owned by his employer as he had bought him and had to work for him for the rest of his life.

In the 4 years that Subhash had worked for Dilbagh Singh, he did not receive any amount for his work. He was told that Ramchandra Sada takes Rs.12,000 every year for the labour provided by Subhash.

At Subhash’s uncle’s complaint, BBA in a raid with the help of local police rescued Subhash on 29th March 2006. After being rescued, Subhash underwent rehabilitation in one of BBA’s transit rehabilitation centres and was repatriated and reintegrated with his family in Bihar.

Mohhamad Samsur

Mohhamad Samsur, 14, is from Kachhi Basti, Manoharpura, Jagatpura, Jaipur (Rajasthan). He has four brothers, who are 4, 9, 10 and 15 years old. Samsur’s father runs a tea stall and sells garbage collected by rag pickers. His father has completed 8th grade and can read. Samsur’s mother is illiterate. She is a domestic worker and helps her husband sort out the garbage to sell.

Samsur started working with his friends as a rag (garbage) picker when he was ten years old because his parents and all his neighbors and friends were rag pickers. He collected garbage from McDonalds, Pepsi factory, and Milk Processing Units in Malviyanagar, Jaipur, three hours a day (from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.), seven days a week for a year. He still has a scar on his foot from stepping on a piece of broken glass while collecting garbage. Samsur also attended school for four hours a day (from noon until 4 p.m.). During his work as a rag-picker, Samsur was addicted to gutka (tobacco) and sometimes used to smoke cigarettes.

He has completed only one year of schooling, later he dropped out of school so that he could continue rag-picking throughout the day.

One day Samsur’s father met an activist from Bachpan Bachao Andolan (the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude). The meeting was an eye-opener for his father, who realized his responsibility to work and to send Samsur to school. Without wasting anytime, he sent Samsur to the Bal Ashram, a rehabilitation center run by Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

Now, Samsur lives at the Bal Ashram in Viratnagar, Jaipur District (Rajasthan) with other children who have been withdrawn from work and are receiving educational and vocational training. Samsur is improving his reading and writing skills so that he can be reintegrated into formal school when he returns home.

Samsur is busy fighting illiteracy, child labor, dowry, corruption, child marriage, etc. He participates in the implementation of Bal Mitra Gram (Child Friendly Villages). He interacts with villagers and children in nearby villages to advocate for a child-friendly society, which aims to eliminate child labor and enroll all children in school through establishing children’s parliaments. Samsur also participates in demonstrations, rallies and marches to highlight prevalent local social problems, enroll children in school, and boycott fireworks and other products that are manufactured using child labor.

Samsur now has hope of a future that is not full of exploitation. He wants to go to university and become a good painter. He sees himself making beautiful paintings. He also wants to help other children like him and work to improve their lives. Education should be ensured so that all the children can go to school, Samsur says, and adults should be provided with employment. He knows that if children work then they do not have time to play, they are exploited by their employers, they do not receive adequate wages, and they do not have a chance to develop physically and socially to their full potential. "The best way to help child laborers is to make friends with them and persuade them to go to school. Schooling is the most important for children," he says.

Neeta Lama

Neeta Lama 16 years old was rescued in a raid and rescue operation carried out by BBA activists under the leadership of Mr. Kailash Satyarthi on the Great Roman Circus. The raid was conducted after extensive research on the complaints made by the parents of the children employed in the circus. In the summer of 2004, Neeta Lama experienced freedom once again i.e. freedom from exploitation and abuse of all kinds.

Neeta, a citizen of Nepal, was bought by an agent of the circus owner a year back. The agent made false promises to Neeta’s naive parents about getting Neeta a well-paying job in India which would help improve their economic position, to which they agreed to send their daughter with the middleman. But what awaited Neeta really was a total opposite of the picture painted by the middleman. Neeta was sold to the owner of the Great Roman Circus in which a life of sheer torture began for her. Neeta was beaten up if she was not able to perform a particular task properly. She was abused verbally, physically, mentally and sexually to break her spirit completely.

When the BBA team rescued the girls, after a fracas with the circus owner, manager and staff, the girls were scared and in a state of shock. While most girls were scared to speak out about their experiences, initially Neeta was the only one to tell the BBA activists about the atrocities imposed on them by the circus owner and staff. Neeta disclosed the physical and sexual exploitation perpetrated by the circus owner and staff.

Neeta and her father were the only ones, apart from BBA, to lodge FIRs against the Great Roman Circus showing her resilience. Neeta was rehabilitated and repatriated to her hometown in Nepal where she is living a life free from exploitation.

Mantoon Sada

Three years back Ramchandra Sada lured Mantoon Sada now 12 years old away from his mother on the pretext of getting him a well-paid job in Saharsa near his home town. Mantoon’s mother agreed as she was under debt and was unable to pay it off alone after Mantoon’s father’s death. Mantoon and other children were duped and taken to Amritsar in Punjab instead of Saharsa. In Amritsar they were left at one Mr. Dilbagh Singh’s place where Mantoon worked for a year.

Dilbagh Singh left Mantoon at his relative, Dhyan Singh’s house to work for them in Gurdaspur where he worked for 2 years from four in the morning to one in the night taking care of around 20 cattle and working in the fields. He worked non-stop without any breaks and was brutally beaten up if he was not able to get up in the morning on time.

After a hard days work, Mantoon was given stale food consisting of one roti (bread) and dal (pulses), that also only once in a day at five in the evening. He was physically abused for any delays or mistakes. He was also verbally abused. Mantoon was also forced to drink alcohol at night by his employer to enable him to work in the field in the bitter cold. He was also sometimes served tea containing some black substance (which we assume was an illegal drug) during the daytime to enable him to work without feeling tired. Mantoon was never allowed to rest or taken to the doctor when he was ill and was given the old torn clothes of his employer’s children.

Mantoon’s employer used to also sell the black coloured substance. When Mantoon enquired, his employer beat him up and threatened to kill him if he told anybody and said that he had already killed one for doing so.

Dhyan Singh once gave Mantoon Rs. 200, taking advantage of which he ran back to Dilbagh Singh from whom he was rescued and set free by the BBA activists. The irony of the situation was that when Mantoon was rescued he could not even speak to his father who was present at that time as he had forgotten his own language and could only speak in Punjabi. He underwent rehabilitation in BBA’s transit rehabilitation centre, Bal Ashram. He has become an activist in his own right and is working towards the liberation of other children caught in this nexus.

Lalkun Sada

Lalkun Sada 16 years old lives in Bihar and belongs to Musehar community which is one of the most backward communities in Bihar. They belong to the scheduled caste category and have been exploited for centuries. They live in the outskirts of the village in abject poverty in inhuman conditions. His father had passed away and his mother was illiterate as all women belonging to this community are illiterate which made him susceptible to being trafficked.

In December 2001, Ramchandra Sada (middleman) enticed Lalkun’s gullible mother to send her son with him for a better future. Ramchandra Sada took Lalkun to Dilbagh Singh in Amritsar, Punjab who further sent him off to his brother, Muneem Singh’s house where Lalkun worked for one and a half years looking after the cattle, watering the fields in the night, switching on the water pump and also repairing the water pump during the night without any light, endangering his life. Lalkun had to put manure to 5 acres of farmland and cut fodder for the cattle. There was another boy working with him who was also from Bihar.

After working with Muneem Singh he was made to work for Amreek Singh with no change in his living and working conditions. He was given stale food, that also only once in a day. He was verbally and physically abused and was given the cast offs of his employer’s children.

When Lalkun used to feel tired, he used to be given tea with illegal drug (bad quality of afeem posth) to help them get over the tiredness making them habituated to substance abuse at a young age. When Lalkun was ill, he was given medicines without consulting a doctor.

Lalkun was sent back to Muneem Singh from where he was finally rescued in a raid and rescue operation conducted by BBA activists.

Kinshu Kumar

10 years old former child domestic labour Kinshu Kumar now 12 years is a resident of Purikatra, Laldegi Mohalla, zilla-Mirzapur, state-Uttarpradesh.His village lacks basic facilities. Purikatra is like a dirty slum surrounded by an open drain with sewage and garbage littered all around .The atmosphere is not conducive and is especially unhealthy for children like Kinshu.

Kinshu belongs to a poor family. His father has no cultivable land of his own, driving a jeep which he owns is the only means by which he earns his livelihood.Kinshu’s father was a wastrel, who used to while away his time along with his friends taking them on rides in his jeep. Kinshu’s mother is a housewife. He has two younger brothers and sisters.

Kinshu was enrolled in a government school near his house and was studying in standard 4th.  However one year back the school was turned into a hospital. At the same time Kinshu’s father’s jeep also developed some mechanical problems. He was forced to take a loan to get his Jeep repaired. The income of the family become so meager that Kinshu was not allowed to go to another school.

He started staying at home helping his mother his mother in cooking, cleaning utensils, looking after his younger siblings. In such a situation even if Kinshu wanted to study such an option was not available to him. In this way Kinshu was losing his childhood.

One day kinshu’s father met with a BBA activist. The meeting proved to be an eye-opener for him. Kinshu’s father realized his responsibility, which was to work and send his children to school. Without further wasting time he sent Kinshu to the Delhi office to ensure Kinshu will get an education.

Kinshu on reaching the Delhi office was sent to Bal Ashram a transit rehabilitation center for rescued child labourers. Kinshu came to the ashram where he was found to be sufficiently intelligent and was admitted to the government school in the village of Sauthana, about a kilometer away from the ashram. This was done in consultation with his parents.

In Bal Ashram Kinshu is free, he is not exploited and is free to enjoy his childhood. Kinshu has been regularly topping in his class. He has natural leadership qualities and is a good actor. Kinshu is enjoying himself and is very happy. He has become aware of his rights and knows that his responsibility is to study. In this way Kinshu was able to escape his misery and enjoy his childhood and freedom.

Jitender Sada

Jitender Sada 16 years old was rescued by BBA activists on 29th March 2006 after having worked for nearly 5 years under torturous conditions.

16 years old child labourer Jitender Sada is a resident of Sihar village, District Supol, Bihar. Jitender’s father had no cultivable land of his own; he used to work as daily wage labourer in other people’s land.

More than five to six years back, Ramchandra Sada (a middleman) took Jitender and 4-5 more children to Amritsar by luring Jitender’s parents that a better future awaited him and he would be earning good money. Jitender and the other children were sold to one of Ramchandra Sada’s associate, Mr. Dilbagh Singh who further sold him to a local landlord Mr. Rana Singh, where his name was changed to Sagar to hide his identity.

A life full of torture and misery began for Jitender who was tortured physically and mentally and made to work 14 to 16 hours a day with no break. The daily routine was to wake up at 5am and work till 11 pm.  There was another boy working with him. In the morning, Jitender had to cut fodder in a manually operative machine and feed around 25 cattle. He had to milk the cattle, collect the cow and buffalo dung as well as bathe the cattle. He also had to monitor the watering of 6-7 acres of farmland as well as put manure in the vast fields. 
 
Jitender was not provided with any bedding or any other proper place to sleep. He was not given adequate food to eat, nor was he allowed to meet or call anyone. He suffered living in these inhuman conditions for 4 years when he was made to work like a slave. His employee used to beat him up on the smallest pretexts. His employers tortured him in the most humiliating and hurtful way, so as to break his spirit completely.

Another horrifying aspect which came out was that in the morning he used to be given tea with opium (to dull the pain, and make him further dependent on the employer, it is also that the person taking opium gets a kick and a feeling of having extra energy) and in the night he used to be forcefully given 2 pegs of alcohol, so that they could work without feeling cold in the harsh winters of Punjab.

Five months before he was rescued, Jitender was called back by Dilbagh Singh to work for him.

Jitender’s parents, in the quest for looking for their son, got in touch with the local BBA activists who called up BBA’s Delhi office. Jitender was then rescued from this hell by the valiant efforts of the BBA activists under the leadership of Mr.Kailash Sathyarthi. The irony of the situation was that when Jitender was rescued he could not even speak to his father who was present at that time as he had forgotten his own language and could only speak in Punjabi. After the rescue he went back to his village and stayed for a few days with his mother and father. He was brought to Bal Ashram where he underwent rehabilitation.

He does not want children to be trafficked for work and instead wants them to go to school. It is these thoughts that he wanted to express and thus has taken part in the march against trafficking.

Amar Lal Banjara

Amar Lal Banjara 12 years old is one among 6 brothers and sisters. He and his family were debt labourers bonded to a stone quarry contractor in Rajasthan, India. Amar Lal at the tender age of 6 was assigned the responsibility of looking after his younger siblings and later went on to assist his father in breaking stones, this task had to be done manually and was a backbreaking activity. Amarlal had to work with instruments that would have weighed as much as he did. Such extreme circumstances made education next to impossible for this young boy.

Initially Amar Lal's father would not consider sending his children to school due to his financial situation but after a lot of convincing by the BBA activists he finally relented, and so today Amar Lal and his brother Puran are attending formal schools.

The ashram has its own panchayat for governance. Right at the beginning of each new session the boys elect their own sarpanch. Amarlal got elected as the sarpanch of Bal Ashram in the recently held elections in January 2006.Apart from this he is also part of the cultural team that performs folk theatre to generate awareness on social issues including child labour. He has transformed into an exuberant, confident and articulate boy with a passion to tackle the issue of child labour.

Amar Lal says, “In Bal Ashram I have realized what freedom is. In the Ashram we have the freedom to be ourselves to be children again, to be able to laugh and play without fear. I can dream now of a future for myself which is not full of exploitation”.

Nazma Boyati, Bangladesh

Nazma Boyati, now 17 years old, started begging at the tender age of 6 with her disabled father, Mr. Momon Boyati. To augment the earnings, Nazma used to wash dishes in a tea stall in her village, Sonapur in Bangladesh. Nazma ranaway from the tea stall after 3 years and started living on the streets of Dhaka city. In order to survive, Nazma was engaged in rag-picking and also selling of scrap. 
During this time Nazma came in contact with Aparajeyo-Bangladesh, who rescued her from her miseries and is still being supported by them.

Nazma is an excellent at drawing and her dream is to become an Artist.

Mohanmmad Farhad, Bangladesh

17 year old Md. Farhad was born in Madaripur District in Bangladesh. He has two elder sisters and a brother. His parents, Mr. Anowar Hossain and Ms. Farida Yasmin, migrated from Shaibehar Upzilla of Maradipur district, during 1991 when Md. Farhad was 2 years old. His father had a small piece of land, however he had to work as a daily wage labourer to earn his livelihood and had a hand-to-mouth existence.

After migrating to Dhaka, his father opened up a small grocery shop and his mother started sewing for a living. But his father’s sop did not work well and they faced many problems. Thus Farhad, in order to supplement the family’s income, started working.

Qazi Novera Tanshu Nasa, Bangladesh

Qazi was kidnapped by a child trafficking group, aged eight, while playing outside her house. Her parents filed a case of kidnapping and the gang was arrested, fortunately before the girl was trafficked. She has been involved in various BUK programmes. She is now studying and wants to be lawyer. She is determined to fight against child trafficking.

Anusua Karmakar, Bangladesh

Anusua was kidnapped by a child trafficking group, aged 10, while on her way to school. Her parents filed a case of kidnapping and the gang was arrested, fortunately before the girl was trafficked. The incident left Anusua mentally disturbed. BUK provided support by involving her in various child based programmes. She is now studying and wants to be a Doctor

Mohammed Tuhin, Bangladesh

Background: Mohammed comes from a family of seven. His father (M.A. Salam) is a mason. His mother (late Shahinur Begum) suddenly died, leaving his father bereft. Due to poverty and lack of attention, Mohammed ran away and started living on the street. He was involved in different types of hazardous work including rag picking and scrap collecting. He was rescued by Aparajeyo’s staff and is now in Class III. He is also involved in newpaper distribution. He wants to be an electrical technician.