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(ANS – Rome) – The evil of child labour though widespread is not without a response. In the world there are a number of places where people of good will, religious and lay people, are engaged in rescuing the children and helping them recover. Here are three examples from Togo, Benin and India.
Pyalo is 7 anni and is one of the thousands of little girls the “bonne” in Togo, who are sold by their parents to rich families as domestic slaves. “In Togo, as in many other countries in west Africa it is normal for families in the rural areas to sell their children for a few francs. Having a ‘bonne’ is a status symbol for the rich families and is socially acceptable explains Patricia Rodriguez, from the Salesian Missions department in Madrid. The missions of the Salesians in Togo are engaged in combating this phenomenon: by on the one hand making the families of the girls have second thoughts and by accepting in the Don Bosco Centre the girls who have courageously fled from this situation of slavery.
Kofi, 9 years of age goes every day to work in the Oando Market in Porto Novo, in Benin. He carries the shopping and cannot go to school. He is one of the many in his country where about one in three children work – on average 8 hours a day – and 1 in 9 are engaged in work seriously dangerous to their health and safety. The Special School for Child Labourers in Porto Novo offers the opportunity to all the child workers between 10 and 17 who have not been to school or have dropped out to catch up and return to normal school and obtain their elementary school certificate.
Bala, 8 years of age spends all his days making bricks at Passor, India. Every day with his own hands he makes 250 bricks and he is paid less than a cent of a euro for each one. Millions of children are working in the 500 or more “brick camps” in the country making bricks every day on starvation wages and without any chance of going to school and improving themselves personally and socially. Last year the Salesian Province of New Delhi, with the support of the Salesian Missions, opened a social centre for these youngsters. Here they can find a safe place where they can eat and rest, learn to read and write and be given some technical training.