By Luz Marina Lopez; Edited by Leanna Cappiello
14-year-old John lives with his mother and four siblings in a small, two-bedroom house near a coffee farm. There are many farms in his family's region, as the economy is sustained by the production of beans widely traded in international markets.
A coffee drinker in a distant country might sip a cup of hot joe and taste the Colombia roast, but may not know how child labour is linked to its production.
John is just one boy among the 1.5 million child workers in his country. He works five days a week on the farm and earns $6 USD as his salary. He uses his menial income to buy school supplies or to help his 70-year-old grandfather.
School dropout rates are directly linked to child labour, mainly affecting males between the ages of 14 and 17. These children are at greater risk of dropping out of school, which negatively affects future job prospects and propels the cycle of poverty in their families.
While John's mother works on weekdays and attends school on weekends, the young John has an intensive routine of his own: he wakes up at 5 a.m. to go to school. At the end of the day, he returns home to spend time with his mother and look after his younger siblings. His schedule is interrupted every three months, when the coffee farm has new beans to pick up.
This job has several chemical, medical and psychosocial effects on John's health and development. Another common issue is that his payment depends on the quantity of coffee he collects. With labour intensity linked directly to payment, more kids like John must work hard in coffee farms to help their families improve their income.
Despite the hardship of child labour, the last two years have been different for John. As a sponsored child, John's days are filled with school and soccer training instead of hard labour. Now, he's working only for his dreams of becoming a soccer player.
Help a child like John. Become a sponsor today.