Nadege is one of the students from Le Lycee International School, France who carried out activities with child labourers, who are a part of the Child Friendly Spaces programme. The programme aims at reconnect child labourers with education. It also works with parents and employers to help facilitate change within this systemic problem.
‘The project we chose to do for the child labor activity was the construction of puppets. We gathered kids who were around 5 to 10 years old, and asked each to build a puppet with the cloth that we provided. At first, many of them did not dare take material, and they would just stay still, watching us with eyes that seemed both frightened and intrigued. This struck me as extremely different from the experience that we had with the MGIS children. We did the same project with MGIS kids who were exactly the same age as these child laborers, but the MGIS children dived into the activity right away, at first constantly asking for help, and then gaining confidence as they understood what they had to do and how.
These slum kids, however, never asked for any help; they wouldn’t look around searching for a color that they liked, but took the closest cloth to them on the floor. I was moved by some of the children’s creativity and attention to details. Something that I found difficult was mostly my inability to communicate with them by using words.
It changes everything – in a way, it’s harder, but in the same time, it forces us to focus on understanding how they think. I was surprised to see how different their dispositions were – some were happy and enthusiastic, whereas others, such as this one girl who came both days, refused to smile, and I just felt torn because apart if I were to spend months with her, there was nothing – or at least not enough – that I could do in a single afternoon to bring a smile upon her face. This entire experience is really anchored inside me now, and it only makes me want to come back and do more. I think that out of all the projects, it is the one that I enjoyed the most, because it felt true and useful, a real emotional exchange between these children and us. Even if what we tried to bring was not much, it may still change some things for these kids, and hopefully some of them will rise and escape into a brighter future.’
A demain !