On August 20th, 2009, CHF Yemen, in collaboration with the Yemen Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and a local partner NGO, organized a much-needed “Day Without Work for Working Children” as part of its ACCESS-Plus program. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, with special funding for this activity from the International Initiative to End Child Labor and the Emily Sandall Foundation.
The “Day Without Work” gave working children, forced to grow up before their time, the opportunity to play and express themselves in ways they are unable to in their everyday lives. In addition, the “Day Without Work” event raised awareness through arts activities about child labor in Yemen. Approximately 500 working children participated in a variety of creative activities.
Mohammed Hassan, a 14 year old boy from the Mawiya district, dropped out of school to work and help support his family. He works in the cultivation of qat, a common Yemeni crop and mentioned that he is harassed at work because of his age. “I am very happy; this day is the most beautiful day of my life. Thank you for the opportunity to enjoy playing with other children.” Mohammed said his dream is to continue studying until graduating from university.
The events took place in public parks in four governorates of Yemen: Taiz, Aden, Hodeidah, and Hajjah. In groups of ten, the children painted large pictures that reflect their experiences as working children. The best drawings will be made into posters and used as awareness and advocacy material against child labor. Children also participated in sports activities and other games. Lunch was eaten together, and all children received T-shirts and caps with slogans against child labor as keepsakes.
Entessar Saleh, nine years old, works as a domestic servant and gets very tired and fatigued of the work. “I am so excited to have been chosen for this day. I hope I can get to do it again.” Entessar wants to finish her studies and become a doctor.
CHF International, in cooperation with the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) and a Yemeni NGO, implements the three-year ACCESS-Plus program to combat child labor through education. CHF and iys partner raise awareness of the importance of education and the negative impact of child labor. The goal of the program is to reduce the overall number of children engaged in the workforce.
All children who participated in the “Day Without Work” likely returned to work the next day. A large awareness and outreach campaign about child labor and education is currently taking place in all ACCESS-Plus target areas, and once parental approval is obtained, ACCESS-Plus will enroll children into the program together with several thousand other working children and children at risk of entering the worst forms of child labor. CHF will write a development plan for each individual child that takes into account the child’s age, previous education, future potential, and aspirations. Children who still qualify for formal education will receive social and educational assistance through the programs that CHF has set up in 24 target schools. Children who are too old to enroll in formal education will be provided with literacy courses and vocational training and will receive assistance in finding non-exploitative work in their trained fields.
Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Labor under Cooperative Agreement number IL-17761-08--75-K.This press release does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government.