Luwaga in a sugarcane plantation in Mukono district. Many children in Mukono district are engaged in child labour
By Flavia Lanyero
At only Shs150, 000 Mugalu, Luwaga, Juuko, Lweya and Sozi have to harvest three acres of sugarcane plantations in Ngogwe Sub-county in Mukono district.
The five boys aged 15,12,13,14 and 15 years respectively have exactly two weeks to complete the work. Because the work is too hectic, they have to employ another child to tie the sugarcane in a bundle before it is loaded onto a truck. This other child has to sort and tie 100 sugarcanes into a bundle to earn Shs200. All these children are now school drop outs.
“I do not know where my daddy is,” says Luwaga, the youngest of the five boys. “I live with my grandmother who is 80 years old and my two brothers. We use the money we collect from working in people’s gardens to buy food at home and also buy some shoes and clothes.”
Luwaga wakes up at 6: 00 am every morning and digs in people’s gardens then at 2:00pm he comes to the sugarcane plantation. In most cases Luwaga says he transitions between the two jobs even without a meal and only feeds on sugarcane.
Luwaga like any other child has dreams, dreams to make it in life and to enjoy.
“I would like me and my siblings to go back to school. When I grow up, I want to become a lawyer. I want to represent people and fight for justice,” says Luwaga.
Unfortunately for Luwaga , and many other children in Uganda, this dream might remain just a dream despite the fact that government has put in place universal primary education where every child can at least study and complete primary school level.
Most children are exploited in maize, sugarcane and tea plantations. Other sectors where children are exploited include; in fishing, sand mining and in stone quarries.
The Local Chairman one of the Ngogwe, Charles Okuta , says that an estimated 500 children are engaged in child labour in a Mukono district lone. The underlying cause to child labour according to Mr Okuta is poverty and ignorance in families. Countrywide, at least two million children aged from five to 17 years are engaged in child labour, the first Child Labour Report released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistic (UBOS) reveals.
According to the report, child labour is among the major causes of child abuse and exploitation and fundamental violation of children rights.
Consequently, World Vision has started a Child Sacrifice Coalition (CACS) committee which has so far gathered 67 (49 boys:18 girls) and rescued them from child labour. A segment of these children had parents who are drunkards and are not providing social protection for them. Others were got from extended families that were not protecting them.
Obed Byamugisha, World Vision’s Child protection and development facilitator says that the community has taken up the responsibility of providing for the children’s food and general social protection although a lot more children still need to be alleviated from child labour.
“The families were identified by Ngogwe ADP and are supported through the Livelihood project by providing food relief in the short term and for the long term – the community has planned to cultivate gardens for the children as sustenance,” Mr Byamugisha said adding: “Sensitizations and education awareness has been carried out and still ongoing though some parents were still reluctant to provide support and protection for the children away from fishing into formal education.”