Now that our kids are teenagers, we’re often asked why they don’t get part-time jobs to help cover their expenses. For someone who lives in the United States or Europe, this seems like a really natural way for a teen to gain experience, learn responsibility, and help out a household that is struggling financially.
Child Labor in Peru
But Peru doesn’t have the same labor laws as many first-world countries. Most teenagers who work in Peru — especially indigenous kids like ours who live outside Lima — have to choose between work and school, because jobs here don’t build their schedules around a student’s schedule.
Even worse, the jobs that are available to kids are usually the lowest-paying and most dangerous jobs. According to the United States Department of Labor:
“Children in Peru engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in mining and in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking.”
Here’s what The Guardian says about child labor in our part of Peru:
“Almost a third – 28% – of all children and adolescents in the Andean country have a job. They are aged between six and 17, are poor, and often do dangerous work in mining and construction. The government wants to get these boys and girls off work and into full-time education.”
Even small employers in the villages of the Sacred Valley often exploit kids. One of our boys had a job for a little while refilling batteries, which involved working with toxic chemicals in uncomfortable conditions. He did this work for several weeks and then his employer refused to pay him, saying he was offering the boy valuable “job training” instead of money!
What We’re Doing
In Cusco, where better opportunities exist, our college kids are required to seek part-time work to cover some of their own expenses. Jorge does deliveries for a local restaurant, working for a trusted friend of Avishai’s who values his education. Jose Luis, who is studying graphic design, is serving a practicum arranged through the university, editing video footage for a drone company. This kind of work is very valuable for the kids, although it doesn’t provide enough extra funds for them to help support the house.
In Urubamba, we do our best to create opportunities for the kids to work, so they can learn the value of earning money, being on time, and bringing a good attitude to work. We’ve empowered them to create hikes and classes that they can offer to tourists, and you — our Global Family — have been very generous about supporting this program when you visit the Valley.
But for the most part, we focus on healing our kids’ emotional wounds (remember that all of them are survivors of trauma and abuse, in addition to being orphaned and/or abandoned and living through Mama Kia’s passing) and on their education, so they can be empowered to break free from cycles of poverty and labor abuse that are so common here. They contribute to the household by following a schedule of household chores which helps them learn to follow directions, work as a team, and pay attention to details.
Your support allows us to do this work. We receive no government funding or grants at all; we are 100% dependent on donations from our Global Family to pay for staff salaries, therapy, secure housing, school expenses, and college tuition to help these kids break free. Thank you for all you are doing for them, we are grateful every day for your support!
P.s. Here’s a very powerful video if you have time to learn more about what we’re protecting our kids from.