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Child Labour: Is it a Blessing to the Children or a Curse? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Erick Ochieng Otieno, Kenya Jun 15, 2007
Human Rights , Education , Globalization , Child Labour   Opinions


Sweating and panting, you would see most children in the streets, plantations, factories and anywhere there is work to be done. On many occasions, the children are given the duties that many older people would consider degrading to them. It is such a convenience for the employers, or the exploiters of the children as they would end up spending very little for the services of these would-be child laborers.

Someone may ask, what is money for a mere child? This, incidentally, is one of the many questions those who seek services from the children ask. To them, a child has no business with money and whenever they get it, despite the sweat they shed to get it, it makes no sense for these exploiters. It is a question of duty done rather than justice.

This brings us to the question: is the issue of child labour a blessing to them or a curse? To answer this, let me share my story when I was young. I can clearly remember when I was about 16 years old. We were at my rural home and a lot had been happening then. We had no better life for many reasons. We had to look for our own meals everyday and night. With my eldest brother and my other younger siblings, we had to toil on people’s farms to get something to eat. It reached a time when one of the potential employers asked us, “why should I pay you such amount of money yet you don’t even have kids to look after?” it is a question that when I remember it now sends a cold chill down my spine.

It makes me feel so much for these young boys and girls who fall into the same fate. One thing that we should understand, in most cases, when a child opts to work for a meager pay, it is sometimes a matter of life and death and nothing can stand in their way of doing it. This is a reality that most of their employers have come to realize and will exploit it to the letter.

By opting to work, the child usually hopes that there would be assistance from heaven to prevent him or her from working and enjoy life just like the rest of the children. This however, is usually not the case. The children are left to the fate of hopelessness and suffering. It takes only a strong willed child to persevere and last to see another day.

For the question, therefore, whether a child should work or not, that would be debatable as it would depend on many factors such as whether there are other alternatives. These alternatives include centers where child labor victims can get a chance to reconstruct their lives and live normal lives where they get the provisions that led to seek work prematurely in the first place.

At seventeen, I had already been exposed to life’s great troubles and tribulations and therefore to work was a normal thing to me as I still do it when I am out of collage. But for a nine year old child, this is like living in hell.

What we should do as a community, therefore, is not to treat the symptoms but rather to treat the roots. The roots of this are many, and they include, mortality rates of the parents due to HIV/AIDS and other causes like poverty amongst the rural and urban communities, and many others. By addressing these issues, we shall in effect address the issue of one child forced to go to work to save a sibling. This will make us not talk about whether to fight against child labor, but rather how to make the child earn more marks in class. This would lighten up a face of a child with a smile. Would it not be wonderful?



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Writer Profile
Erick Ochieng Otieno

I was a student from Egerton University. I pursued a course leading to a BSc in Applied Aquatic Sciences. I believe that through writing, one can relieve a lot from the heart. Inspiration came from hearing and reading. Whoever said that you have to be an old one to communicate issues of policies, did not consider that even a newborn communicates through its own way, "crying". I would like to communicate to the world all my thoughts; However minor they are, I believe they will go a great length to straighten or strengthen a policy or two somewhere and I shall have contributed to the well being of the world. How noble that is, it is for my worthy readers to let me know. So what do you think? Tell me anytime. Bye and have a nice reading.
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