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Campaign for the prevention and eradication of child labor at Potosi (altitude: 4’500 m)

Since 1994, Voix Libres has concentrated its efforts on the prevention and eradication of child labor in the mines of Potosi. The inhuman suffering endured by these children is the reason why we have given priority to this campaign, in which all the communities concerned participate: thousands of beneficiaries in Potosi and the surrounding valleys.

Prevention

In order to avoid parents from being obliged to send their children to work in the mines, the strategy has been to improve their living conditions through a program of interest-free micro credit.

Une adolescence dans l'obscurité

Young mine worker in the Cerro Rico mines, where danger is extreme : gas, collapse, explosions...

 

Une maison de pierre

Emiliana, a mine guard in the Cerro Rico, in Potosi, 4.500 m. above sea level, has always lived in a stone shack on the mountainside. Here she sleeps on a bed of stones with all her family. There is neither heating nor water…

She watches over the miners’ equipment at the entrance to the mine. She is an example of resilience: the most adverse conditions have not got the better of her. She has transformed her anger into the hope of justice. Her words are powerful and relevant and she witnesses in the name of all suffering women.

“We do not know the taste of water, or of fruit or vegetables. Every day we eat soup made from rice or pasta. You can’t earn a living here any longer and we want to leave the mine and return to our villages, to revive the fertility of Pachamama, our sacred land.”

Results thanks to our support programs:

Education and vocational training, food self-sufficiency, health, infrastructure, interest-free micro-credits and social micro-enterprises..

  • Surveys of the child labor population together with an assessment of the social-economic situation of their families.

  • Awareness-raising campaigns on children’s rights.

  • Hundreds of education and vocational scholarships.

  • Music, painting, literacy and remedial education workshops.

  • A school amidst the mine, on the Cerro Rico : 80 children (at 4'500 m. elevation).

  • Construction of a child care center for 100 orphans in the Cerro Rico and a training center.

  • Computer workshop.

  • Large library

  • Traditional instruments manufacturing

  • Micro-credit program to create alternatives to work in the mines.

  • Creation of fair micro-enterprises : carpentry, sewing and weaving production workshops, construction company, bakery, radio.

  • Health Center and preventive medicine campaigns

  • Construction of infrastructures: drinking water, drains, electricity and a road within a shantytown.

  • Construction of a multi-purpose sports complex: a stadium with a large field for various sports, a park with swings, small showers and toilets.

  • Training workshop for the women who watch over the mines and the minerals collected.

All these results were made possible thanks to the tremendous work of all concerned, the constant communication, the speedy execution, and a flow of confidence and tenderness at all times.

Managers of projects: the new generation

Initiatrices

The Robertito group of mothers : new support for the eradication of child labour

Multiplier effect

  • Each child, who has had the chance to leave the work in the mines, must help another child to also get the opportunity to go to school and receive a scholarship.

  • The beneficiaries of scholarships actively participate in the identification of the poorest families in their neighborhood, organize meetings with them and inform them about the micro-credit program.

  • The young people, who were able to leave the mines and go to school or receive training in one of our enterprises, take it upon themselves to transmit all that they know to the orphans of our center.

  • The solidarity contracts and ethical codes demand that they never forget the weakest, the last in line …

  • Once they have their diplomas, they are bound to work, if possible, for five years to help develop their communities.

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