|RMG – Rescuing the young|
|RMG – World Day against child labour|
|Colombia – Tragedy in a coal mine|
|Colombia – “Ciudad Don Bosco”: 45 years at the service of those most in need|
(ANS – Medellín) – The “Ciudad Don Bosco”, in the Colombia-Medellin Province has devoted one of its programme to helping the child labourers in the coal mines. First of all they approach the families and offer the children the possibility of schooling. Various organisations are involved in this work.
In the region of Sinifaná, full of coal mines the work is carried out unprofessionally and illegally and children are used as cheap labour. Locally, they have reached the point of considering child labour in the mines as traditional and normal; as an economic contribution to families as a strategy for the illegal operations. In this area, about 6,000 children were engaged in the work in the mines unless alternatives were offered.
Through the “Ciudad Don Bosco” the Salesian brought together various organisations and State bodies as well as NGO for the protection of the rights of the child mine labourers and provide them with education, health care, food, training in values and rights as well as setting up networks of public social organisations to deal with the problem.
Ciudad Don Bosco, in its project launched in 2006, gave itself until 2015: to promote an all-round preventive course of action so that minors did not finish up in the mines; to oppose illegal exploitation; to affirm the right to education; to establish a strategic alliance between public instruction and Ciudad Don Bosco; to foster greater attention on young people and training for work other than that in the mines; facilitate credit systems for educational and small business purposes.
Various government agencies also became involved in the implementation of an overall plan for Social Protection in the Sinifaná region: strengthening the Local Councils for their social policies, led by the mayors; integrating the public communication of the Government in the work teams, so that the issue was seen to be a problem in the field of public policies.
At present there are about 300 children and young people who are benefiting from the project, which is aimed at abolishing child labour in the mines and helping those at risk. 40% of the children in the programme had been in the mines and 80% of the total number were aged between 10 and 15.
The youngsters in the programme are semi-boarders and receive lunch, a snack, and take part in programmes of recreation, sport, culture, nourishment and psychology. There is also a programme of lesson support provided by educators from the institute, while for basic lessons the children attend the local public schools.
160 young people between 15 and 18 are given training in five subjects: tailoring, woodwork, metal work, car mechanics and agricultural technology.
Thanks to these projects the number of children working in the coal mines in the region has been reduced by 70%.