First-person perspectives on the world of work
Photo: Asitha Seneviratne
Child labour

A song to let children fly

When I was approached by the ILO to take part in the Music Against Child Labour Initiative, I was super excited because this is something I genuinely believe in, child labour needs to be eradicated.

I got into music a few years back. I wanted to see if I could make a difference on the Sri Lankan music scene. I collaborate with the composer Charitha Attalage and a few other artists. It’s a different kind of experimental music that we have been doing, a fusion between modern electronic and classical Sri Lankan. We have a loyal fan base in Sri Lanka and also a few abroad. So it keeps growing.

I think child labour needs to be eradicated from the world so that children are able to spend their childhood the way it should be spent.

I have always been very passionate about the importance of education for a child.

Ridma WeerawardenaSinger-songwriter

At the moment, Sri Lanka is in a much better place compared to the region. However we still have about 40 000 children currently in child labour. They are deprived of their education and their basic rights as a child. 

Ridma Weerawardena sings with disabled children in a community workshop.

Community work with children is something I have done for the past ten years.

© Jehan Seedin

I work with children with disabilities and children who are underprivileged, through music, dancing and community work.

Collaborating with the ILO was an amazing opportunity for me to give back to the community in the way that I know, through music.

Ridma Weerawardena performs child labour song “Let them fly” on national television.

We performed the song “Let them fly” on national television on 12 June 2019, which is World Day Against Child Labour.

© Asitha Seneviratne

Our song addresses adults and pleads them not to clip the wings of a child before they even learn to fly. It summarizes the whole idea of what we are trying to say about education, basic human rights, and children having a childhood rather than working.

The lyrics play a huge role. The reason to do it in all three languages, Sinhalese, Tamil and English, was to address a larger audience rather than focus on only one community. We wanted everybody to understand it, relate to the cause, and also reach out to an international audience.

Having the children’s choir as part of the song also adds a lot and I think touches the heart of the audience as well.

Music can talk to a wider audience and I think it will reach a lot of hearts. 

Ridma WeerawardenaSinger-songwriter

Children are the future of this country. We have a few more steps to go.  I think by way of music we’ll be able to convince a lot of people, convey the message and create more awareness to end child labour.

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