Top 7 quotes from screening of 'The Price of Free,' doc on Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize winner fighting to end child slavery
No. 7: 'When the Nobel Prize was announced, I said that this is the comma in my life, not the full stop'
It would be hard to find a more inspiring person than Kailash Satyarthi. For four decades the activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 (an award shared with Malala Yousafzai) has led the effort to end child slavery and exploitation in the world. And he says he will not rest until every child is "free, safe and educated."
His work is the focus of the new documentary The Price of Free (formerly titled Kailash), which won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival last January. The film shows dramatic rescues of children trafficked into slavery in New Delhi, India, and how the love and care of the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation works to revive their broken spirits It is now playing at the Laemmle NoHo Theaters in the Los Angeles area and will debut on YouTube's Soul Pancake channel on November 27, to coincide with #GivingTuesday.
On Friday night. director Derek Doneen, producer Davis Guggenheim and Kailash himself appeared at SoHo House in West Hollywood for a discussion following a screening of the documentary. These are the top seven quotes from their conversation.
There's something about Kailaish that has this wonderful glow about [him], that makes you want to stop and be present and open your heart.
Kailash's foundation has rescued more than 85,000 children in India and elsewhere subjected to slavery and exploitation, many of whom had been forced to work 18 hour days fashioning baubles and toys for sale in the West. He and his wife have set up ashrams where the liberated children are provided with medical care, emotional support and education free of cost.
His efforts have helped to reduce the number of child laborers around the world from an estimated 260 million to 150 million.
I kept really digging for this darker side to him.
Doneen said he found it remarkable that Kailash retains "his optimism and the love and light that he exudes day to day, in the face of seeing some really unspeakable things." He added, "I thought that there must be days that he feels hopeless because I did... This [problem of child slavery] feels at times intractable to me. But he doesn't have that attitude. He feels from the bottom of his heart that he can end this in his lifetime."
There is a reason to celebrate. So how could you find some pessimism in me?
"I learned to celebrate every small success," Kailash told the audience at SoHo House. "I never lived with [pessimism] because I always felt that there is a solution of every problem in the problem itself."
To illustrate how problems contains their own solutions, Satyarthi spoke of an experience from his childhood. As a boy he said he was deeply upset to learn that his best friend could no longer afford to attend school, partly because of the cost of books. Kailash started a drive to collect textbooks at the end of the year that students would otherwise have discarded and give them to the incoming class of students.
"The book was the problem and the book was the solution," he noted. "So why can't we find a solution to every problem?"
I always think that truth will prevail. Justice will prevail. Hope will prevail. So why should we be deterred with the obstacles that are coming in the way to truth?
in his effort to eradicate child slavery and child labor, success builds upon success, Kalaish explained.
"The victims of slavery have proven that they have all the qualities to become the leaders and liberators," he observed. "Thousands of those children who were freed with our humble efforts, they became activists, they became liberators, they became messengers, they have stopped trafficking of children and child labor in their neighborhood and their villages."
I myself wanted to become a monk.
Kailash contemplated taking a different path before he was called to activism.
"I wanted to do some spiritual work and so on," he revealed, "not typical religious work, but I wanted to go deeper into the sense of all religions and that is compassion, that is love, that is sisterhood."
Young people have so many qualities. Purity of heart. They are not yet polluted as we grownups are.
"They are very simple, clear, transparent," Kailash said of children. "They are curious to learn things. They are curious to know. So they have the courage to question. Sometimes they can question openly but, inside, the question is always there. And we so-called 'learned' people, educated people, rich people, wise people, we start with answers. So that is the difference."
He added, "Those who can [ask] questions and have courage to bring it to the people, bring it to the society, they change the world."
Satyarthi continued, "I maintain that they should lead the world because if children and young people lead the world... if their voices are heard then I tell you that there will not be any war, there would not be any wall, there would not be any boundary. No child has ever created borders in the world. No child has put the line on the earth as we do. No child has invented the idea of passport and visa. No child has been responsible for any kind of poverty and injustice. Nothing."
When the Nobel Prize was announced, I said that this is the comma in my life, not the full stop.
Kailash, 64, expressed optimism that the new documentary will advance the cause of protecting children and eliminating child slavery and servitude.
"I call upon all of you and urge you that you don't just look this film as a film but as a spark, as a matchstick which can light millions and hundreds of millions of candles in the world to wipe out this scourge," he told the audience.
He has launched a "100 million for 100 million" campaign to harness the activism and energy of youth to liberate 100 million children still without freedom. Details can be found at 100million.org.
The title of the film refers to a major dimension of the problem of child servitude -- that consumers around the world buy cheap goods without stopping to consider whether child labor was used to make the items.
The Price of Free website recommends these steps everyone can take:
Be a conscious consumer
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.