“Today, World Day Against Child Labour, is this 10-year-old boy’s first day working as a shoe cleaner”

Somali Child Labourer Abdifitah Ahmed Nor Shining Shoes
Abdifitah Ahmed Nor shines shoes in the Somali capital Mogadishu (Liban Abdullahi Mumin)

Barriers to education, Child labour, Days in the childhood development calendar, Global Youth Ambassadors, Refugees and internally displaced people, Right to education

One of our Global Youth Ambassadors from Somalia tells how the story of a child who has to work instead of being in school has touched his heart.

Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend school and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.

As today is World Day against Child Labour, it’s awful that 168 million children around the world are engaged in it – depriving them of their childhood, their health and education. 

Child labour is a human rights abuse. My country Somalia is one of the worst countries for child labour – children face difficulties in getting access to basic services, such as shelter, food, healthcare and education. 

It means that the future of our children is at risk if we do not make efforts together to stop abuses and give them their rights.

It’s normal to see everywhere in Somalia – especially in the capital Mogadishu – children doing various work like washing cars and shining shoes. 

Education is the only solution to eradicate child labour in Somalia and around the world. Global Youth Ambassador Liban Abdullahi Mumin

These children may be exposed to many dangers including explosions and vehicle accidents. 

When you interview them and ask them the factors that caused them to work instead of going to school, they reply they are from poor families who can’t pay school fees. 

I get frustrated every time I see these children – but what I can do is to advocate and raise their voices to get their rights.

Mogadishu hosts tens of thousands of families who left their homes because of drought in search of food and water. 

I met Abdifitah Ahmed Nor, who is 10 years old, this World Day against Child Labour. He told me that he came to Mogadishu this week after a long journey.

“My mother, my brothers and I fled from Baidoa because of droughts,” he said. “Days we were walking and then we got a car to take us to Mogadishu.

“We are now living in an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp located on the outskirts of Mogadishu.”

He added that his mother begged for some money to buy brushes and today, June 12, is the first day he is working as a shoe cleaner.  

His words really touched my heart. Thousands of children like him live in IDP camps in Mogadishu and other cities. They are facing difficult situations and need shelter, food, healthcare and education.

Education is the only solution to eradicate child labour in Somalia and around the world.

The Somali government takes primary responsibility and I call on our government to give priority to Somali children, particularly those from poor families, to tackle child labour and other abuses.  

Also I call on stakeholders to think there are other children who need what their children need. We have to work to eradicate child labour. Together we can make a difference.

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