More than 60,000 Norwegian middle school students were out in force all over the country on Thursday, selling pastries and coffee or otherwise trying to raise money for the annual fund-raising drive called Operasjon Dagsverk.
The fund-raiser, which began in 1964, calls on youngsters to work for a day to help their contemporaries elsewhere in the world. This year the money they collect will be donated to the humanitarian organization Caritas Norge, which in turn will use it to help child labourers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Children in Congo are put to work early, many of them in mines that produce diamonds, gold, copper and cobalt among other precious metals for use in everything from jewelry to mobile telephones. When Dr Denis Mukwege of Congo won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, he commented that “I come from one of the world’s richest countries, yet my people are among the poorest in the world.” Many children have little chance to go to school themselves, and are instead forced into hard labour or militias from an early age.
Newspaper Aftenposten editorialized on Thursday that this year’s cause for Operasjon Dagsverk was especially worthy, with the money going towards programs aimed at helping the children with education or other job training to get them out of the mines and into a classroom.