Over the past year, this project has made a massive difference to child labourers and children who at risk of entering exploitative work in Myagdi district, West Nepal. One such child is Ram.
Ram, 16 years old, has lived in the small village of Dhairing in Parbat District all his life. Because of extreme poverty and lack of fertile land, his parents were forced to work on other people’s land offering wages enough for just a hand to mouth existence. Due to this extreme situation, Ram dropped out of school at the age of 11 and began working as a seasonal agricultural labourer and stonebreaker.
One of REEC’s community workers came across Ram and began the long process of rehabilitation, with the aim of giving him an opportunity of a better life. Ram became involved in a Child Rights Club but was unwilling to be enrolled into school. He expressed interest in taking up tailoring training. REEC supported him on a six month tailoring course along with an apprenticeship placement. He successfully completed the training and has now been provided with a sewing machine and all the necessary equipment to set up his own tailoring shop. This will meet not only his needs but also the needs of his family. He is determined that his sister continues her education and does not have to take the tough path that he was compelled to take. He is also involved in savings activities within his Child Rights Club in Dhairing and is also saving with a local cooperative. When he was supported with the sewing machine, he commented:
"The programme conducted by REEC is supporting many child labourers like me so I would like to express my great thanks to REEC and its supporters. This programme is creating awareness on our rights and is changing our life becoming dignified citizens.”
Over the past year, this project has made a massive difference to child laborers and children who at risk of entering exploitative work in Myagdi district, West Nepal. Central to this is the Drop-in Center, run by International Childcare Trust's partner, REEC.
Access to basic services for child laborers through the Drop-in Centre (DIC)
Since March 2011, 438 child laborers (240 boys and 198 girls) had regular access to health services, non-formal education and play and recreation activities at the DIC. The DIC is central to reintegrating separated children back into their families and communities and providing legal aid to children who have suffered abuse and exploitation. The DIC also runs the outreach programme which enables identification and withdrawal of child laborers form the worst form of child laborer by decreasing their working hour and facilitating school enrollment. The DIC also provides essential support to the child laborers and children at risk, providing vital basic services and protecting them from abuse and exploitation.
Non-formal education (NFE):
International Childcare Trust has been working in partnership with Rural Environment & Empowerment Centre (REEC) since 2009, supporting Brighter Futures for Child Labourers, a project that aims to provide vital support to child labourers in western Nepal and prevent other vulnerable, at-risk children entering exploitative and hazardous employment.It is evident from REEC’s work with the communities that when families are not economically secure, children end up working to supplement the family income. Family-based livelihood support is therefore crucial to preventing child labour and withdrawing children from exploitative and hazardous employment. As part of the project REEC has established 10 Child Labour Parent Groups (CLPGs) throughout the district, with all women members. Through these groups, REEC raises awareness among parents on child rights and hazards of child labour; the women also receive financial support for income generation activities as well as training on basic business skills and savings and credit concepts.
Pabitra, a member of Shantideep CLPG, is a woman belonging to the historically and traditionally discriminated and marginalised Dalit community. Her only dream was to be free from debt and lead a socially respectable life. As she could not afford to have goats of her own, Pabitra used to take care of other peoples’ goats for meagre wages. Her husband worked as a stone breaker and both their wages put together could not feed their family of seven. When her husband fell ill, her family either had to borrow from others or had to go hungry. One day her youngest son asked her for a notebook and pencil for school, she was compelled to say "go to work instead of wasting your time reading." She became a member of the parents groups after her son joined a Child Labour Club. She obtained a grant from the group to buy a goat and begin earning money by selling milk. She says that it now much easier to run the household. "I feel ashamed that my son was nearly to leave school because of poverty but there was no alternative. But nowadays it is easier to run our daily lives and it is not necessary to stop children from gaining from the bright light of education. REEC changed my life as well as knowledge. My children will be one of the good citizens after his education.”
REEC, a local grassroots NGO based in Western Nepal, aims to prevent children engaging in child labour, while supporting those children already working. One such child is Bibek.
Bibek is 12 years old and is originally from Bhakimli, a small village in Myagdi District, mid-west Nepal. With very little land and not enough food to sustain them, Bibek’s family decided to move in search of work. They headed to Beni, a bustling town lined with shops, restaurants, hotels and numerous government offices, just five hours walk away. Not long after moving, however, Bibek’s mother left his father for another man. Although his father soon remarried, Bibek and his younger brother no longer wanted to live with him as he was an alcoholic and often turned violent, and so went to live with their grandparents.With very little care and attention, Bibek, aged seven, started spending more and more time roaming the streets, scavenging, begging and carrying out menial tasks for a few rupees, such as transporting sand to and from the river. Bibek also started hanging around with other street children and smoking marijuana, often staying out at night. After five years living and working on the streets, he met one of REEC’s outreach workers who encouraged him to visit REEC’s drop-in centre. This was not an easy task as Bibek was extremely wary of other people, but after a few meetings on the street, he decided to make an initial visit. Bibek now attends the drop-in centre on a regular basis, although for the first couple of months his attendance was extremely irregular and on those occasions he did visit, he would often tear up books and destroy equipment. However, with ongoing care and support from the REEC team Bibek has started talking about his problems, helping him cope better with stress, deal with traumatic experiences, and develop his self-confidence. Although he does not want to attend educational classes at the centre, he has stopped using drugs and is once again living with his grandparents.Although he is now back within a family environment, he may one day return to life on the streets without ongoing care and support - REEC is continuing to work closely with Bibek’s father and grandparents.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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