Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstone of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development. Most children in our society are denied this right due to poverty and are forced to look for work at a tender age.
Those who employ them take advantage of them and since they are poor and lack the relevant information and knowledge, they work in oppression. Child labour comes in many forms but the most prevalent in Kiambu and the neighbouring counties is child (domestic) house help work which according to a study carried out by Action for Children in Conflict (AfCiC) and Save the Children accounted for close to 50% of children work long hours fetching water, firewood, cleaning and taking care of children their age.
AfCiC empowers the working children with proper information about their rights as working children. AfCiC hold fora with the working children informing them on child rights such as right to education, right to quality health care and protection from abuse and harm. During these fora the participants are also enlightened on conflict resolution and where to report abuses from their employers.
Margaret Wambui is a 12 year girl at St. Patrick’s primary school. She is the chairperson of the School Advocacy Club introduced by AfCiC. The Advocacy Clubs were introduced for the purpose of promulgating child rights to the other children both in school and at community level.
Margaret has taken the mantle of becoming a child right champion and during the August holiday she wrote and presented the following recital to address the plight of domestic workers in Thika.
Poverty, domestic violence, who gave birth to you, I wish I can know her, because of you I was forced to drop out of school and be employed as a house girl at the age of 13yrs.
I was taken to Mama John at Thika, which is far from my Kibwebwe rural home, to work as a house girl. My daily activities involved washing their car, ironing their clothes, preparing children for school and even preparing Baba and Mama John’s birth water. Waking up early and sleeping late became my daily routine
The salary was Ksh.2000 and from this Ksh.1500 used to be sent to my mother, Ksh.300 used to be deducted from my salary to cater for wastages and breakages and I was only given Ksh.200 per month.
All was not gloomy though, I could bath once, twice or even thrice because water was ever available not like in our village where one has to walk for over 1 km to get 20 litres of water
I even ate food cooked with aromat and as you know with aromat everything is unbelievable. My appearance changed to a good looking girl and Baba John was attracted to me. He used to pretend he has gone to work then come back for ‘My sweetie, sweetie number one’ Sang. What followed… (Shakes her head). Baba John disfigured me because I could not negotiate for condom use or family planning.
When mama John realised what had happened, she asked me who was responsible and my reply was he bought me chocolate, the second day roses blah blah blah blah blah and from this mu ubikra (virginity) was taken away and that’s why am like this.
(Screaming) “No no no you have to get rid of that pregnancy” Mama John lamented. I was taken to a quack doctor for abortion and while he was attending to me he ruptured my uterus which led to the removal of my uterus and to add insult to injury, Baba John infected me with HIV.
I wish Baba and Mama John could have took me in as their daughter and helped me continue with my education. I am now barren and HIV positive at the age of 15
Community members, government do something and eliminate child labour.