World Vision Albania
article • Wednesday, June 23rd 2010

Street working children ask to regain their childhood on International Day Against Child Labour

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Children identified as street working children or children at risk were given the rare opportunity to play, sing, draw and speak out.

“We need help”, “we want to be happy”, “I’m happy when I\'m in school”, “school, games and not child labour for children”, “It is beautiful to grow by playing and laughing together with other children”, they said.

Now that I’m grown up I feel ashamed to beg, that is why currently I just collect cans or wash cars Most of these children have never been to school or dropped out school to work in order to provide for themselves and their families. Anastasia* is one of thousands Albanian children who was obligated to drop out of school before the age 10 because she has to beg on the street to provide for her family.

“Since my mother got sick and my father left us I was obligated to beg and to provide for my sick mother and my siblings,” said 13-year-old Anastasia. “Now that I’m grown up I feel ashamed to beg, that is why currently I just collect cans or wash cars.”

“My biggest desire is to go to school again like other children,” added Anastasia.

“It is just unacceptable that a country which has already entered NATO still has child labour exploitation,” said Mr. Henk Van den Dool, Dutch Ambassador in Albania. He appealed not only to the government, but also to other actors who can contribute to a better future for these children.

According to official data some 540 children work in the formal sector and 315 others are involved in the worst labour exploitation like working or begging in the streets. Hundreds of other children in Albanian who are victims of sexual and labour exploitation and those at risk are not included in this data because the majority are unregistered children or not yet identified.

At a high level meeting held on the International Day Against Child Labour, the Albanian Minister of Labour, Spiro Ksera, appealed to have a national study on child labour in order to better understand the increase of child labour And the day-to-day reality.

"Albania should end the worst forms of child labour,” appealed the Minister of Labour. “This can be achieved if we bring together forces in the fight against this ugly phenomenon.”

Getting educated for me means life, future, success, prosperity, happiness, a light in my journey The event, which coincided with the World Cup, gave World Vision through its Area Development Programmes (ADPs) in Vlora, Elbasan, Librazhd, Korca, Tirana, Dibra and Shkodra, in partnership with children, parents, teachers, local government and other NGOs, the opportunity to raise its voice and advocate against child labour in Albania.

“Everyone has the right to go to school, get educated for life and then work,” said Simona Canaliaj from Vlora ADP, located southwest of Tirana.

“Getting educated for me means life, future, success, prosperity, happiness, a light in my journey”, said Bora, another girl from Vlora, who participated in the activity organised on the day.
Altin Lala, a very well known football player in Albania asked children who were present in the BKTF activity and all other participants to deny child labour by holding up the ‘red card’. For the first time most of the children used their little hands to say ‘STOP the child labour’ that they themselves are part of every day.

A World Vision Albania Quantitative study interviewed some 293 street working children in 2008. The study revealed as many as half of the children start work before the age of 10, with the average working between seven to 18 hours per day. This work not only takes them away from school but also denies their right for participation, protection and health care.

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