Reducing Child Labour Conference

Trip Start Sep 07, 2004
Trip End Dec 20, 2005

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Saturday, May 7, 2005

I'm in Nairobi now for a conference with one of our
donors.  They are funding projects focused on reducing
child labour and increasing enrollment of children in
school.  This is my first experience working on a
project focused on child labour.  I never realized how
difficult it would be; and not just because of the
emotional aspect.

I've been working on parts of this project for the
last few months.  During this time, I've come to
realize that my organization (like many others)
doesn't do a very good job of tracking information and
in fact I have no idea where they get some of their
facts from.  Still, the figures that they show are
scary...with 26% of orphans and vulnerable children
being used as sources of labour (especially as
domestic servants, field labourers and in
prostitution/street work)in our catchment area.  This
is approximately 2,500 children in just our area
alone.  The actual number is likely much higher than
the reported number as most families cannot afford to
send their children to school (even though it costs
less than $30/semester/child) and many families need
the children to work in order to help pay for food and
medical supplies for the family.

Some of the work that these children do is defined as
the worst forms of labour (work that endangers the
child's life and involves prostitution).  As you can
guess, this compounds the HIV/AIDS problem.  All of us
are committed to seeing this end but child labour is a
big issue that is surrounded by controversy because
people are confused about what actually constitutes
child labour (if it doesn't fall under the worst
forms)and even the International organizations working
in this field have difficulty defining it.  We've
started asking some very interesting questions such
as: Can a child help out at home and on the family
farm or does it constitute child labour?  If the
family can't afford to send a child to school, should
they be just sitting at home or should they be
helping/working?  I have to say there are alot of grey
areas, especially when families don't have enough
money for food.

Still we hope that our project will help get some of
these kids back into school and give them a chance to
be kids.

Love Ames
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