CSO in Busega helps an orphan to quit the scourge of child labour

Kaswahili Mathias (12) living at Busami village in Badugu district, Simiyu region may still be having some good old memories of the splendid care that he received from his late parents. This is the life that never lasted so long. Things had just begun to change to the worse following the death of his parents that fuelled his difficulty and torture – allegedly instigated by his own guardians.

Being forced to work in farms and grazing the cattle for most of his time, all had deprived his right to properly continue with his primary education.

“I don’t really want to recall this difficult sort of life that came into my life. Sometimes I wished I could run away and get out of this village and never come back. I had nothing at that time since everything was taken by my father’s relatives,” says the little Kaswahili.

Kaswahili says one of the things that made his life miserable is when he could sometimes not be given some food to eat. It eventually forced him skip classes and do some little manual work just to keep his day going and hence buy some food.
“So I had to work on other people’s crop fields and get paid up to TZS 1,000 while others would just give me food to eat after finishing the jobs.  Since I had nobody to tell my problems the little jobs helped me to earn a living,” he says.

“There was no one to lean on to the extent that my own sister had to be forced to get married at a tender age and the dowry simply vanished into the hands of relatives to enjoy. This made me re-think on how life would be ahead of me,” he adds.

Now there is new hope in the life of Kaswahili after having benefited from an intervention by the Busega Children & Development Services Assistance (BCDSA) with funds from he Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

He says he has been able to meet up with fellow children and become a bona fide member of Children Clubs coordinated by BCDSA and thus benefiting from various services relevant to the 1996 Child Development Policy and the 2009 Child Development Act.

Through the Children Club details of Kaswahili’s predicaments were given to the Ward Executive so as to start taking action on them. The Ward Executive was able to go to his place and had frank discussions with his aunt (name withheld) on a number of child right issues. She had conceded the mistakes made and promised to change for the better.

The surrounding community has also started to discourage such acts of child rights violation propagated by unfaithful parents and guardians. The community has also changed and developed cooperation with the children’s clubs that seek to defend the welfare of children whose rights are violated.

“I have learnt a lot through different seminars coordinated by the Children Clubs. Cooperation between leaders of the Children Clubs, village executives and leaders of the BCDSA in making sure that they actually reached me where I was, is something very commendable. I thank for all the positive changes happening again in my life,” says Kaswahili.

He adds that the children club and other actors have successfully enabled him to go back to school and hence relieve him from the psychological torture that he had. The villagers have also been motivated to contribute some money for his school uniforms and stationeries.

Also, the village executive managed to file a case at the village council to seek justice following the allegedly misuse of inheritance left by Kaswahili late parents as well as questioning on the dowry paid for his sister’s early marriage. All properties were thus retrieved, including the plot of farming land and the lost dowry. After the awareness, the village executives were able to push the case to the Primary court and Kaswahili’s sister was chosen to oversee the inheritance until he reaches 18 years.

I appreciate the Children Clubs and BCDSA job. As an orphan my life has changed. I feel more valued again by the community around. I’m even more proud to have reached my Standard Seven without any further obstacles,” says Kaswahili.

The ward executive of Busame, Mussa Bwiru says: “many parents and guardians do threaten their children that they will disown them soon after they find out that the latter have reported issues of child rights violations to authorities above. We have been able to change that habit through cooperation with the children clubs as well as through taking action against those guardians who instigate violence against children.

Through sensitization by the children clubs, a total of 65 children have been reinstated back to primary and secondary schools, as a result of contributions from the citizens as well as from the formed village development committees. The move has helped to overcome the challenge of children not being sent out to school.

Children from Badugu ward, say they have been able to benefit from the project as well as trainings and are now aware of their baic rights and responsibilities. They are also aware of basic laws that protect a child, and where to go and report in case the parents or guardians go against their core responsibilities in taking care of the children.

“Our fellow has been deprived of his basic child rights for a long time. But through the Children Clubs supported by BCDSA we were able to get the confidence, enough to stand up and report the issue to the ward leader so as to rescue him,” says Mathias Jackson.

“Gadlord Deuli, who is the coordinator of programmes at BCDSA says: “A total of 60 children who have attended the seminar through the children clubs have already started to enjoy their rights. They are all in school without any discrimination, early marriages to girl children have also gone down in our community.”

Apart from the advocacy work done, the children clubs were established in order to protect child rights by forming special committees run and managed by the children so as to help them articulate their voices. Through these clubs, more children have started to realise their rights and are able to participate in identifying obstacles that hinder smooth dispensation of their rights.

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