Gold mining in order to go to school – Wathum’s story

 

Since the age of 14, Wathum has worked in a small-scale gold mine in Djugu, in Ituri Province. Like thousands of children his age, he is forced to work to guarantee survival. “From a young age I have tried to combine mining work and school,” Wathum explains, without really believing it. “It’s not easy to go to school and have to find something to eat,” the boy continues, recounting his daily battle.

Now aged 17, Wathum is in his first year of Middle School – a school year he will not be able to finish due to lack of funds. “My desire to learn notwithstanding, I often take the same class two or three times,” Wathum explains. He lost his parents years ago. His older brother, who looks after him, can’t raise the school fees alone. So that he is not thrown out of school for not paying his school fees, Wathum works every day to help his older brother. When he finishes school at 5pm, he goes straight to the mine to work. He comes home in the early hours to sleep for a few minutes before going back to school.

Ending child labor in the mines

“This isn’t any life for a child, but unfortunately, I can’t help that,” concludes Wathum, conscious that he is putting his life in danger. The mine that he works in could collapse on him at any time. Like Wathum, children in this mining area put their lives in danger every day and see their futures disappear.

The work that the children do in the mines is one of the worst kinds of child labour, forbidden by Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The children work there in dangerous conditions, exposed to injuries and illnesses that can be fatal.

It is forbidden for children to work in mines, but in practice, nothing is done by the local authorities.

We must act now in order to save thousands of children who work in mines across the country. Without help, these children exist between life and death.

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Kindly translated from French by Lucy Oyelade

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David

David a rejoint le Club d'Ecoute pour Enfants en 2012. Deux ans après, il en est devenu le porte-parole puis en 2015, le coordonnateur. La même année, David est devenu Enfant Reporter. Il présente également diverses émissions sur les droits de l'Enfant. "Parler des droits de l'Enfant via les médias, c'est ma préférence". David étudie le droit à Bunia et rêve de travailler à la défense des droits des plus vulnérables.

David joined the Children's Listening Club in 2012. Two years later, David became the spokesperson and in 2015 the coordinator. That same year, David became a child reporter. Since 2014, David has hosted various programmes on child rights.  "I want to use the media to talk about child rights”. David studies law in Bunia and dreams of working to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. He says he will always work for children.

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