Child labour in the Acholi Quarters: the sad reality
I am in a sad mood for days now. Don’t know if its that Lariam I am taking longterm or just this place where I am working that makes me cry. People ask me what my kids and artisans do if they would not have maken the 22STARS jewellery. Well many of them used to work in the stonequarry here in acholi quarter and their relatives still do. Yes also kids, 3 years old, 5, 7, 10, 11.. Just any age.
No they don’t go to school. And no they don’t speak Luganda or English (the main languages spoken here in Kampala). They speak Luo, the language from Northern Uganda, but when Kony started terrorizing the North with the Lord Resistance Army they had to fled to Kampala. They earn 300 shilling (8 cent) per jerrycan of broken stones they make. So at the end of the day when they are lucky, they have enough to buy food. Its really a battle of survival here.
Now with the rainfall they first need to pump the water out of the quarry to continue digging stones. So again the kids will just go to bed without food. Because of the bad feeding they have worms, skin rushes and all other kind of diseases. It’s not just women and kids who suffer, but also men. Here in the video you see a father with his three kids working in the stone quarry to survive. Their mother left them, because she found a new husband with whom she got new kids. That’s something that happens here quiet often, people get a new husband, but because of poverty he would not be able to support the children from an earlier marriage.
That’s why also the donations for the schoolfees of the kids from my artisans are so important, most of those kiddies are orphans so there is no one paying for their schoolfees. They would just get when lucky food and housing and perhaps medicine to survive and that is it. Kids die here everyday for reasons that would have been easy to cure in the west. They die of malaria, aids, polluted water and by times -while fetching water – the kids fall in and drawn.
With 22STARS we are working hard with them to teach them small businesses skills and expand our business with better products etc. So there is progress and I am extremely grateful to everyone who wears our jewellery and donated money and is sponsoring a few of our kids now!
Stella Romana Airoldi