In wealthy countries, it can be difficult to visualize what is child labor, except for news stories that might depict sweat-shops in a faraway land. But the problem is much more complex, and tackling it is not so easy. What motivates parents and communities to move children into labor? What allows employers to get away with abusive conditions? What holds the children there? How do conflict and humanitarian crisis play into the problem? Where is the promise for their empowerment and development? Let's start with my home city of Bo, Sierra Leone, and discuss the question layer by layer.
As a researcher, peer educator, and community mobilizer, I have dedicated myself to child protection in Bo and surrounding Moyamba district, Sierra Leone. I hold a degree in Social Work from Njala University, and have led projects in Tackling Child Labor Through Education (funded by International Labor Organization), community mobilizer for Liberian refugee camps and monitor of health and sanitation projects (funded by United National High Commission on Refugees), coordinated child protection programs for Restless Development, and sanitation programs with UNICEF. In 2012, I published "Child Labor and its Impact on the Socio-economic Development of Bo city, Southern Sierra Leone."
Clean water, healthy bodies, and the opportunity to learn-- these are what God intended for all children. Making that promise into reality is our challenge here on earth.