From child labourer to child leader

Apr 26, 2017
By Miriam Nohelia Diaz; Edited by Leanna 

Ericka, a young teacher, wakes up at four o’clock in the morning and walks 90 minutes to get to work. She arrives at the school and prepares early before the 13 preschoolers arrive.

19-year-old Ericka is the sole sister of four brothers, all of whom started working at a young age. She recalls a time, when they were very young, when they would all have to work long hours cutting firewood and collecting coffee beans. “I used to attend school only two days since I had to work the other three. Sometimes, I had to drop the school year,” Ericka says.

But since World Vision implemented a project to decrease child labour in her community a few years ago, things have been different for Ericka. She is the only one in her family who has completed her high school education. Now, she dreams of going to university. 

The project also hosted many events and held conferences, which also gave Ericka the opportunity to learn beyond her high school classes. “I was trained in children rights. I had the opportunity to participate in conferences of domestic violence and I was able to share what I learned with others teenagers of several communities,” she says excitedly. Ericka was becoming a leader.

“It helped me out a lot, it was such as blessing,” Ericka says gratefully. She continued to describe how content she was to be taking classes instead of laboring, and she continued to excel and achieve good grades.

She explains that her parents had grown up enduring child labour themselves, so they showed a great amount of support for their daughter. “My parents valued what I was learning, they thought this could be so good for me,” Ericka says.

Since World Vision’s project has progressed, there has been a decrease in child labour in communities like Kaulapa. Ericka, as one of the volunteers, observes “We always find children working, but I think this has decreased. It is good to see children in school instead of cutting coffee beans.”

Because of her dedicated involvement in World Vision’s project to end child labour, Ericka was the recipient of a 1,000 cordobas ($37 USD) monthly scholarship. She has decided to attend university to study social development. 

Her community has inspired her to learn more so that she can return and help them thrive. 

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