DALLAS — Thomas Hircock may only be 19 years old, but he’s done more good deeds in his lifetime than some people twice his age. The sophomore nursing student at Misericordia University has helped provide a brand new bike to almost 1,000 girls and boys at risk of trafficking, slavery and child labor.
Hircock will host a lecture, “Bikes to India,” from 5 to 6 p.m. Nov. 16 inside Misericordia’s library. He hopes to spread awareness of enforced labor and encourage students to help supply more bikes in the coming year.
The general public is also encouraged to attend the lecture and join his movement.
Hircock, of Exton, just outside Philadelphia, said he started the project with his father, David, in 2007.
“My father travels all over the world and looks at supply chains of companies and basically finds where they get their resources from,” Hircock said. “He’s traveled to places like Brazil, Australia, Ghana, South Africa. He finds child labor, slave labor and enforced labor and he exposes it to the company.”
While in India, David Hircock began working with BBA (Bachpan Bachao Andolan), a movement for the protection of children, led by 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi.
“Working with BBA, my father visited schools and asked young girls and boys what they needed to succeed,” Hircock said. “He was thinking they’d ask for pens and pencils and paper. They actually said bikes. They said they want transportation to travel to school safely.”
Hircock said as many as 40 girls are forced into prostitution every day in India. Having a bike helps steer away traffickers. “If a girl is on a bike, she’s less likely to be trafficked, because a trafficker might think her family has money and that an investigation would be done about her whereabouts,” he said.
To help supply bikes, Hircock said he sold items handcrafted from India to his friends and teachers at school. In the first year, he helped raise enough money to supply eight bikes. Each bike costs roughly $60, he said. The bikes were purchased in India to help the local economy.
To date, 940 bikes have been supplied.
Hircock has traveled to India to help distribute the bikes almost every year since 2007. He’s even handed bikes to children alongside BBA founder, Satyarthi.
“(Satiyarthi) is an incredible person. He actually goes out on raids of circuses and other places to try to stop child labor,” Hircock said. “When you surround yourself with great people like that, it influences you to keep doing great things yourself. We should use our greatness to help others. Everyone should help someone who doesn’t have the same opportunities as them at least once in their lifetime. I still wish there were more great people out there in the world, and hopefully there will be.”