Today I’ll be sharing the story of a 13-year-old child labourer who works with his brother at a road construction material crusher shop.
This boy, Umar, is also my student at my Slum School.
After our class got over one day, I asked him to stay a while to have a brief chat with me about his past.
Like every child, he dreamt of a playful & comfortable life or at least a hassle free childhood but we don’t always get what we want. Umar’s mother is a housewife where as his father is a daily wage worker.
Since early childhood Umar has been working for his family. At first he started working at a Naan Shop when he was just 7 years old and would earn 3000/month even after putting in 12-14 hours of hard work.
The hardest part was that even this little amount of salary was given to Umar after 3 months of hard work. Apart from this injustice his employer used to abuse him too, both physically & verbally.
He didn’t want to leave this job as his four brother, five sisters and parents were dependent on his salary, but it was almost impossible for Umar to continue so he decided to leave this job and switch to something else.
He remained jobless for a month after which Umar procured a job similar to his previous job but in completely different field. This time he started to work at a milk shop.
Working condition of this job was way better than his previous job and fortunately his salary was also increased to Rupees 5, 000 a month.
He worked there for around 3 years but had to leave this job, too, as his brother wanted to work with him in his new venture.
Ali, Umar’s brother was frustrated with his old employers and decided to start his own small scale business of crushing raw material for road construction.
Ali’s first preference was his own brother so he told him to leave his old job and join him. Umar would handover all his salary to his mother. He would be give some amount later for his meager daily expenses.
When I asked Umar about his education, he said that before joining the Slum School, there used to be a female teacher who used to teach him Quran and provide basic education, but after few months she shifted from that place.
He got emotional & said that he still misses her and the way she used to teach him and his friends. Moreover, when I asked him as to how would he spend his leisure time, he said that he doesn’t even get an hour for himself after work & studying at Slum School.
He travels several kilometres daily to fill the water cans as there’s hardly any access to clean water where they live.
Not only did I feel sad after listening to his tragic turn of events, but also felt strongly that this needs to be corrected.
The motive of this interview was to understand how a child becomes a child labourer and how his dreams are shattered because of hardships and poverty.
I dream to make a world where children are allowed to be children and besides being productive and creative, are also permitted to enjoy these golden years of innocence.
Never should a child have to forfeit it for anything and they should be able to make a strong foundation for the coming years by the necessary process of acquiring education and learning all that they can.
Let’s hope for such a world and work together to make it happen someday!