Soumba | From goldmines back to school

“My name is Soumba, I am now seventeen years old. I live in Dossola, Mali. I was taken out of school when I was fifteen years old because my parents told me that they couldn’t pay the school fees anymore. According to them, I was ready to work and get married.

They put me to work in the goldmines. Every day I had to drag and carry heavy baskets loaded with stones, ten hours a day, six days a week, for 1 euro, sometimes 1.50 per day. One day, a youth group from my old school passed by the mine where I was working. They were from the anti-child labour club [1]. They came over to talk to me about the heavy labour that I was carrying out, and they told me that it would be a lot better for me to return to school instead of working in the goldmine. I felt honoured that they came especially for me. Even more notably, they came to my house one week later. They spoke to my parents and asked them why I hadn’t been attending school anymore. I saw that my parents were listening but they were not convinced.

The youth group from the anti-child labour club passed by more often and continuously explained that I would learn to read, write, and calculate at school so I would be able to take good care of myself and my children in the future.

Eventually, my parents were convinced and agreed that I should go back to school. I was so happy that they paid for my school uniform and the school fees! When I ended up going back to school, I felt confident enough to say that we had to delay the wedding for the time being.”




[1] This anti-childlabourclub has been formed at this school in the context of the Stop Child Labout programme Out of Work and Into School, Joint Efforts Towards Child Labour Free Zones (2014 – 2017) that has been financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Out of Work is the sequel to Omar’s Dream, the Beginning of the End of Child Labour (2012 – 2015) which has been financed by the Dutch Postcode Lottery.