John in his class in Rwanda

Child protection clubs restore hope to children

John* lives with his mother and five siblings. John’s mother has been the sole provider for their family since her husband abandoned them. Even though she works as a day labourer at multiple rice farms, providing for all her children’s needs is often out of reach. Sometimes even having enough to eat is a struggle for John’s family. Understandably, school fees were regularly left unpaid.

John’s debts at school accumulated. He was often sent home because of unpaid fees. He was on the verge of dropping out of school and at risk of becoming a victim of child labour. On the days he missed school, he was reported to have gone to a rice farm to work.

Members of his school’s child protection club found out and wanted to help John. They all decided to talk to their parents to contribute to his school needs.

I’m thankful to all the club members who are contributing to my school fees. They also bought shoes for me. - John

child protection club in Rwanda
The child protection club that helped John with his school fees

 

Child protection clubs

It Takes Every Rwandan to End Child Exploitation is a campaign that supports children and the community to fight child labour and child abuse. One in five children in Rwanda are victims of child labour. Poverty is the primary reason children are sent to work. But sadly, child labour keeps children from getting the education they need to break the cycle of poverty.

At schools in the Western province of Rwanda, child protection clubs have been formed to train students in ways to stop child exploitation.

Club members learn how they can support their friends, neighbours, and relatives who may be facing these problems by identifying them and talking to their parents. For cases that are beyond their capacity, the club uses other channels like toll-free numbers to call for support. The members have worked with school leadership to bring some students back to school who had dropped out of school due to various reasons.

Elisee, one of the club members, explains that World Vision’s training empowered the club to identify child abuse and report it. They had always wanted to help their friends, and now they know how.

We identified the children who were involved in child labour or dropped out of school and talked to their parents about the effect of child labour. - Elisee

Even when some parents did not value what they had to say, the club members were able to involve the school administration and still make an impact.

 

John at child protection club
John writing on the blackboard

 

Dreaming of a better future

John dreams of a better life for his family. He wants to work hard and get good grades so he can go to university. With an education, he hopes to be able to support his family.

John’s mother appreciates World Vision for the initiative of forming and training child protection clubs. The clubs are having a big impact on the community. Some parents did not know that children’s education was a child's right.

I would not believe my eyes, that children can take up the initiative to pay for their colleagues’ school fees. It’s a thing that even adults cannot do. - John’s mother

Having benefited from the club, John pledges to help prevent child labour and to advocate for other children struggling to stay in school.

*John’s real name has been hidden to protect his identity.

 

What is World Vision doing to end child labour?

As many as 160 million children around the world are engaged in child labour, working in jobs that deprive them of their childhood, interfere with schooling, or harm their mental, physical, or social development. Nearly half of them work under hazardous conditions, such as carrying heavy loads on construction sites or digging in open-pit mines. Child labour is a violation of both child protection and child rights.

World Vision places children at the centre of all our work to transform communities for good. We empower children to know their rights and work toward their own well-being. And we work with their parents and communities to see that kids are protected and that their futures are not stolen by labour exploitation.

We do this by providing educational services; support for parents to improve their incomes and food security so that children don’t need to work; encouraging support for national child labour laws and their enforcement; and by promoting social accountability for communities, governments, and businesses to combat child labour.