Friday, September 3, 2010

Child Labor, Causes, and Fatalism

Living in Africa and seeing/experiencing another culture has often made me ponder.  Sometimes I question African worldview, often times I question the "Western" worldview, and other times I question my own worldview.  I think all of these are good things and one of the many reasons I love living overseas.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the "causes" people get behind and how much sense they really make (or how much of a difference they really make).  I know this probably sounds very fatalistic.  I admit over a year living in a third world country has made me at least a bit fatalistic.

Let me give a few reasons/examples behind this view before you hate me.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." -Chinese Proverb  Great idea.  Sometimes easier said then done though.  You teach him to fish.  He can't afford the equipment (like a net or a basket) so you buy it for him.  He uses it for a while and is able to feed his family.  Awesome.  A child gets sick.  He can't afford the medicine they need.  He sells the equipment to get the medicine.  Back to square one.  (True story, by the way.)  You teach a better farming techniques.  Things to make soil richer, crops yield more, and to keep people from doing damage to their backs.  They laugh at you.  "This is not the way my grandfather did it.  Or his grandfather."  They won't try.  Their children go hungry.  Or, they do try it but either too little or too much rains come erasing their hard work.  (Also true stories.)

Malaria is a huge killer here.  There are many programs to try and fight this.  Here are just a few.
Nothing But Nets
Project Mosquito Net
Nets for Life
They get a net through one of these programs.  They use it for a while.  It gets hot.  They stop using it.  Someone gets malaria.  They use traditional medicines.  The person dies.  This is life to them.  Death is accepted.  Or, they get a net.  They use it for a while.  It gets a hole.  They do not repair it.   Or maybe, they get a net.  Someone gets sick or a feast is coming and they need money for a goat so they sell it.  (Not necessarily true stories that I have seen or heard of, but definitely true to the African way of thinking.)

In particular I have been thinking about campaigns on child labor and child labor laws.  I have not witnessed these things in other countries but I know here that child labor is essential.  The school year (if a child is able to attend school) revolves around rainy season/planting and harvest so that children can help in the fields.  If they didn't help then their families crops would be less.  They already most likely do not get enough (or at least nutritional enough) to eat and if they did not contribute to the work they would get less.  Do they lose their childhood?  I don't think so.  They do learn responsibility and know what it is to contribute.  They still play and have fun like other kids around the world, they just also are an essential part of their families survival.  So, this causes me to wonder (and I have not studied this at all  [or seen it] to know if children who do work in other countries (though it may not be in a field) must do these things to contribute to their families' and their own survival.  Therefore, by making this a cause are we hurting them in the long run?  Like I said these are just raw thoughts without much (if any) research except for what I witness here in the country I live in.

A little girl maybe 2 or 3 carrying a hoe as big as she is as she follows her Mama (who is carrying the girls younger sibling on her back) to the field.

That is all the fatalistic examples I have energy for today.  Maybe I will share some more another day.

What are your thoughts?

Processing the world around me,

1 comment:

  1. It is so valuable being able to see things from the perspective of others around the world. What an incredible experience you are having there. Great insights and things to ponder.


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