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Sierra Leone News: World Day Against Child Labour… NCC engages disabled

Some of the disabled and their children at the programme

Some of the disabled and their children at the programme

Every day, on the streets of Freetown, disabled men and women are directed around by young children. Young children push wheelchairs or lead blind people through the streets. Children sell water, mangos or groundnuts along the street. Children walk downtown toting trays of bananas, apples or cold drinks. Children break stones. Children haul goods through markets. These children are supposed to be going to school, studying and playing, but instead they are pushing wheelchairs or carts, leading the blind and begging from passing cars or pedestrians. These children are making money for their families… and are victims of child labour.
As the world commemorates the Day Against Child Labour, with this year’s theme ‘in conflict and disasters, protect children from child labour’, the National Commission for Children (NCC) in collaboration with the National Commission for Persons with Disability, SLUDI and the Ministry of Labour, on Monday engaged disabled at ‘Burn Ose’ around Pademba Road.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it.
Six-year old, Mohamed Sesay (not his real name) said he has been pushing his aunty around town and at the end of the day, the aunty will give me Le1,000, and my parents are aware of it”.
He said, “I am going to school, but sometimes I don’t go. I just move around with my aunty finding money for them. But I really love to go to school to meet my friends and to learn”.
Sarah Bangura, a disabled woman and mother of three, said her daughter is attending the Saint Joseph Convent and in JSS III. “I have to pay fees and other charges. Where do they expect me to get money? Except I beg. So I have to ask my children to move with me around. One is going to school while the other don’t because I can’t afford to pay for all of them.  So these children have to help me fend for them and their elder sister”.
Commissioner of NCC, Olayinka Laggah, said World Day Against Child Labour is celebrated all over the world not because they want children to work for their family, but the work they do should not affect their education, their health and development.
Another disabled parent, Adama Cherb, said they are not happy with the situation they are faced with, especially when they are using their children to beg. “We are also not happy living in the street and having our children work. So, government should ensure we are taken out of the street. When my children are sick, I have to pay if they go to a hospital. I have to beg for my children and myself.”
BM/12/6/17
By Betty Milton
Tuesday June 13, 2017.

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