The story of Amos, Amina and Mike

Amos Senyonjo (aged 15)

Amos was born in a village near the Ugandan gold mine Rubali, fifteen years ago. His mother died and in order to support his father and younger sister and brothers financially, he works in a gold mine for 12 hours every day. He has never been to school. Amos sleeps at the edge of the mining area in a muddy tent camp. It is jam-packed with shacks constructed with wooden poles and blue plastic sheets. The ‘sanitary facilities’ are dreadful and diseases such as malaria and typhoid are common. Some children do not even have a tent to sleep in so they spend every night in the open air.

Amina Namugwera (aged 11)

Amina’s father and her sisters and brothers live in Kampala, which is a large gold mining area in the Mubende district. But Amina and her mother have been living and working in the Rubali mine for a month now. Working is not the most favourite pastime of this eleven-year-old girl. ‘I like playing and reading books best,’ she says. But whether she can actually read is not so certain. Amina has never been to school. Many child workers like Amina dream about learning a practical skill or a real profession. One boy wants to repair cars, another one wants to teach children, and others want to become a doctor, a farmer, a priest or even the president of Uganda.

Mike Ssenyobho (aged 14)

Having worked in a gold mine for three years now, Mike can be considered an experienced miner. One of his jobs is ‘washing’ the finely grinded gold ore with mercury, an extremely toxic metal that attaches itself to the small particles of gold. Many child labourers do this job. They are mixing the gold ore with mercury using their bare hands. They often stand in puddles of water that contain mercury. The children are not aware of the danger of mercury. When they breathe in this toxic vapour, it harms their nervous system, eyes, lungs and kidneys. Children are more susceptible towards mercury poisoning than adults.

Taking children out of gold mines – it can be done!

More than 1 million children are working in gold mines around the world. The situation of these child labourers may seem hopeless, but there is a solution! We can eradicate child labour from gold mining: if everyone works together on the conviction that no child should have to work and every child must go to school. Then the apparent causes such as poverty can be overcome and structural changes can be achieved.

Stop Child Labour is working in Asia, Africa and Latin America together with local organisations to get all children out of work and into school. For example by creating and strengthening child labour free zones. And by jointly looking for new solutions for persistent problems that are obstacles for good and accessible education for all children. In addition, we call on citizens, companies and governments to become actively involved in the joint fight against child labour.

Would you like to join us and support our campaign? Sign the petition here.