The 14-year-old charcoal maker

Updated Jan 30, 2018
Robert’s favourite video game is League of Legends. Like most 14-year-old boys, he could spend countless hours playing it.
 
But there’s one big thing that sets Robert apart from other boys his age — he makes charcoal for a living.
 
It’s unusual for someone as young as Robert to be working already, let alone in something so grueling. But this is reality for millions of children worldwide, trapped by poverty in jobs fit for 40-year-olds, not 14-year-olds.
 
It’s easy to assume that Robert’s mom forces him to work. That she doesn’t love him enough to put him in classroom, instead of at the helm of a smoking hot, charcoal mountain. But none of that is true.


 

See how charcoal is made and hear more from Robert and Marilyn.

Robert works this hard because he is willing to sacrifice for his mom and seven younger siblings. In his urban community, gang violence is a frightening reality. Robert knows that he has to work hard to help keep his younger siblings in school and out of trouble.
 
When the day feels too hard to keep going, Marilyn says her son Robert is her motivator, her encourager. “Ma, don’t be discouraged, we can do this,” Marilyn recounts, “Don’t worry, I’m strong. As long as you are here with me, I am happy.”
 
Marilyn and Robert work together to make charcoal to sell to their local market in the Philippines.
 
It takes them 3 hours to cover the pyramid of wooden pieces in dirt. After that, they smoke the wooden pieces slowly, which turns it into charcoal. Robert delivers this charcoal to a local store owner on the back of his bicycle.
 
Marilyn makes $42 CDN from the charcoal sale. She buys food for her family and has $4 left until the next sale.
 
“My biggest joy comes from seeing my children happy,” says Marilyn. “When I have money, I make sure I provide to them first. I give them whatever they want… I am happy when I see them eating,” she says as she wipes away tears.
 
We see Marilyn and Robert. Do you?
Your partnership with World Vision can transform Marilyn and Robert’s reality. Despite the challenges his family faces, Robert’s smile is wide and deep. He’s not interested in complaining or rebelling. But the fact of the matter is, Robert shouldn’t have to shoulder these responsibilities. He should be spending his days in the classroom, and his evenings with his friends and family.
 
When you engage with World Vision Canada by becoming a child sponsor, you join a movement of love. The end goal? Empowering children.
 
Together, we strive to help children reach their fullest potential by ensuring that their communities are strong, sustainable and resilient. We believe victory over poverty is possible because of love. Because of people like you.
 
Will you join this movement of unity? We promise two things: it’s worth it and it works. We’ve seen with our own eyes that love can transform even the hardest places to be a child.