Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Joy and Pain of Fireworks

Fireworks are a traditional means of celebrating Christmas Eve, "Nochebuena," in El Salvador. Vendors set up small stalls in towns and cities across the country where all sorts of pyrotechnics can be purchased. The rockets and exploding shells make a noisy and raucous welcome to the celebration of the birth of the Christ child.

Yet the widespread practice of celebrating with fireworks comes at a tragic price to many children. Over the night of December 24, 36 children were severely burned by fireworks throughout El Salvador. The images in this story from El Diario de Hoy give witness to the tragedy which often comes to innocent victims on a night intended to be filled with joy. The Director of the Benjamin Bloom Children's Hospital in San Salvador is indignant and told the press that he will not rest until fireworks are prohibited.

In addition to injuries from the use of fireworks, the cottage fireworks industry of El Salvador is well known to employ child workers. As many as 3500 children may be employed in the hazardous work of fireworks production in the weeks leading up to the Christmas celebrations.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Follow this link for a startling image of childhood innocence in a fireworks vendor's stall.

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