Empowering working children

Protecting and empowering working children

Young people making live recordings for their radio show
Around the world, about 150 million children aged between 5 and 14 work, often in conditions that are very bad for their health. That is why, in Nicaragua, terre des hommes schweiz is helping working children to protect themselves, discover their own abilities and build a future for themselves.
In Nicaragua, child labour has increased significantlly in recent years. It is estimated that there are about 320,000 working children, and of those about 3,000 are sexually exploited. Although laws have been passed in Nicaragua to protect children and young people, the state does not abide by its obligations. Even though young people often play responsible roles within the family and their work contributes to supporting the family financially, they are mistreated and have no right to voice their opinions.

Paulo wants to be a doctor
Paulo from Jinotega in Nicaragua would like to be a doctor and therefore wants to go to school. Like many other children, he works in the market and in that way helps his family to survive. Often, children and young people are exploited at work and have to suffer violence. The aim of the scheme at the Jinotega Kids' Club is to persuade mothers that school and the leisure activities at the Kids' Club are important for their child's development.

Children and young people have a right to leisure and education
Many children like Paulo work in the markets and in the urban districts of Jinotega and Yali. The Kids' Clubs offer leisure activities like theatre, dance, sports and games. They help the children to understand and develop their social and creative skills. The Kids' Clubs also support the children and young people in talking to their parents and to shopkeepers, the police and their teachers, and they try to improve the young people's situations. Now some retailers are supporting the children by providing food and writing materials. Some even offer them protection from attacks by adults and some complain that the children are becoming too stroppy - surely a good sign.

Children and young people denounce violence and mistreatment
Many children and young people are helpless in the face of mistreatment and abuse. The Kids' Clubs in Jinotega and Yali help them to understand their own degrading and damaging situation and that of others. The aim is to make them aware of the abuse and able to assert their rights. Behaving responsibly when exposing the problems is very important.

Playing an active role themselves
The Kids' Clubs work closely with 600 children, young people and carers and offer one-to-one and group psychosocial support. The Kids' Club teams also support children and young people when they go to the authorities or appear in court.
To prevent a repeat of the trauma, the Kids' Clubs organise training courses for school officials, the police, and the municipal and judicial authorities. Young people also produce radio broadcasts and theatre shows to talk about their rights and raise awareness of the need to prevent violence.

Looking forward, looking back
The Kids' Clubs reach about 4,000 girls, boys and adolescents in the town markets in Jinotega and Yali, in the most disadvantaged districts and at six primary and secondary schools. In the future, they will continue to offer children and young people leisure activities there, help them to denounce violence and mistreatment and support them in negotiations with their parents, teachers, shopkeepers and the town authorities.
It will continue to be a challenge to make the ministers and authorities address the concerns of working children. The local authorities are extremely overworked and there is a shortage of qualified and sensitive staff. This is partly why the Kids' Clubs offer further training for the employees of local authorities and practical work placements for students.
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Help for young people from young people.

In all its work in every single country it is involved in, terre des hommes schweiz relies on the strengths of young people. That is why the training programme Youth2Youth has been developed and is growing constantly.