Journey to Hell of Child Labor | The weekly country

“I just know that right now I don’t want to work, I want to study,” says 12-year-old Roja, who has been rescued from spending 12 hours a day in a room making bracelets in India, without receiving anything in return. As the, 160 million minors work around the world. For example, Amina, 13, another of our protagonists, whose daily routine is to dig in a mine in eastern Cameroon to find gold and sell it. He cannot read or write. And there is also Mónica, 12, who has not been to school since the beginning of the pandemic and sells ice cream at a street stall in El Alto, Bolivia.

In collaboration with Unicef, El País Semanal and Planeta Futuro travel to three continents to portray a drama that takes away school, games and the future. And that has been aggravated by the pandemic and the lack of political action against poverty. The latest data is dramatic. For the first time in two decades, progress in reducing child labor has slowed. We heard the voices of Amina, Roja and Mónica on the eve of November 20, Universal Children’s Day. And in the year that the United Nations has dedicated to the eradication of child labor.

Amina, 13, works in a Cameroon gold mine


“Sanú … Sanú, sanú …”, greets Amina in fulfuldé language. He says it to a modern tape recorder that he holds in his hands, a little shaky with nerves. It is the first time in his life that he has come across such an artifact. Amina, 13, cannot read or write. He has never been to school and has worked since the age of seven in an illegal gold mine in eastern Cameroon, very close to the border with the Central African Republic. His image and testimony are irrefutable proof that in the XXI century child labor is a complex reality and difficult to solve … KEEP READING …

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Roja, a child from India rescued from child exploitation


The first light of dawn bathes the farm fields, still flooded by the last monsoon rains in this small corner of India, while 12-year-old Red prepares to go to the village madrasa. For two hours he learns Urdu and Arabic together with some thirty boys and girls of all ages. Time that Naseema, 25 years old and Roja’s sister-in-law, takes advantage of to prepare the food. They live in a small village surrounded by rice fields and brick factories in the Sitamarhi district of Bihar, one of the poorest states in the country … KEEP READING …

Monica is 12 years old, she sells ice cream and dreams of her own ice cream shop


There is a lot of commotion around here. Cars are constantly parked in front of this orange stall that can be read in capital letters: “Ice Cream.” Over a passion fruit sorbet, a bank teller enjoying a lunch break thinks he finds the reason for the popularity of the business:
—It’s for the children, we like to collaborate with the children.
Without a doubt, Mónica is the most successful saleswoman on this scorching morning in the Bolivian city of El Alto. He is 12 years old … KEEP READING …

160 million small workers


There are children working for us right now. All over. Exactly 160 million in official figures. The unofficial ones are unknown. A total of 97 million boys and 63 million girls who every morning do not grab their purses and go to school. No. They go to the factories, the mines, the fields, the markets, the textile workshops, the brothels … Sometimes, they don’t even move. They live in them. Minors, between 5 and 17 years old, with trade; nameless, many times. Without childhood always. It is one in ten in the world. In rich countries we hardly see them … KEEP READING …

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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