Child labor often occurs because of a lack of awareness and an ignorance of the risks. That’s why raising awareness is so important and why it’s one of our core objectives.
Tobacco farms are often small, family-run businesses. Families involved in tobacco growing often rely on their children’s contribution to the household income, and may consider child labor as a normal part of growing up. ARISE therefore employs a collaborative and community-based approach to promote the relevance of education and the importance of eliminating child labor. Parents are often unaware of the consequences of child labor, and our efforts are therefore targeted at households and communities.
The ARISE strategy is to have a targeted approach and aims to have an impact at every level, focusing on planning and building strategic alliances to gain support and acceptance. This is particularly relevant when smallholder farms function collaboratively as a community rather than as individual farms.
Our efforts focus on different stakeholders and how we can best empower them to create change. We believe that it’s important to empower children, parents and teachers alike, and to ensure that our methods are appropriate. When talking to youth for example, we keep the message as simple as possible, but we always aim to be engaging.
We use several methods to implement our strategy including promoting role models and providing skills to enable self-monitoring.
Role models can be an effective way to generate awareness and interest and to create change. A positive example set by one family in a rural community can create a domino effect as more families find it acceptable to send children to school instead of the tobacco fields.
In order to stimulate a long-term commitment, we also encourage self-monitoring and provide field workers access to training and qualifications. These trained workers can then identify children at risk of or engaged in child labor, refer them to services, or notify authorities of such cases. They understand the law and raise awareness of child labor issues with farmers and their children.
Our awareness-raising activities include pre-awareness community surveys, community stakeholder meetings and workshops, and training on child labor issues for local community leaders and district officials.
Other efforts include:
- official launch days that gain support from national ministries and local community leaders
- creation of partnerships with local, state, and national government departments
- awareness meetings for local communities
- targeted awareness-raising theater activities
- training for teachers and education officials
- training for rural mothers of school-age children, offering them training sessions on small-business skills and the principles of how cooperative organizations work
- events such as parades and national awareness days
- creation of and training on tools to gauge and monitor awareness.
New skills for mom
Gertrude Thondoya of Kambironjo, Malawi shares her experience of learning about child labor and her new-found skills that have allowed her to stop sending her children to the field.