“It’s Time to Talk! The engagement of all people to improve the lives of working children”
Two youth representatives from Indonesia talk about their situation as working children in front of leading international companies and scientists at the Global Child Forum in Stockholm on the 11th April 2018:
“My name is Ruth Kesia Simatupang, I‘m 17 years old. I live with my parents in the suburbs of Medan City, Indonesia.I live with my father who is a parking guard, my mother who is a scavenger and my younger sister who is 13 years old and studying at second grade in middle school. She also works as a scavenger. I started working on the street when I was 10 years old. I work because my parents are struggling to pay our school costs, and since I am afraid of dropping out, I decided to work with my mother.
Initially I worked as a street singer. I was very tired because I had to work under the sun every day. My schoolmates also bullied me. In addition, I worried that the Civil Service Police Unit would arrest me. I worked as a street singer for three years.
Then, I worked as a street vendor. However, since I had to compete with other street vendors, I had a very low income. Therefore, I changed job and started to work as a scavenger with my mother.
Together we collect rubbish. When I work I face risks of traffic accidents and scolding. I also get tired because I go to school in the morning and work in the afternoon, and I do not have enough time to take a rest.
However, there are also benefits of working. When I work on the street, I meet many people and I have made friends. I feel proud and happy because I can earn my own money for my school. I also appreciate my parents more as I realise how hard they work to earn money.
My name is Fauza Ananda, I‘m 17 years old. I live with my parents near Pinang Baris bus station, this area is the border between the suburbs and central of Medan City.
I live with my father who is a bus driver and my mother who sells yoghurt. I have a sister who is 12 years old who is studying in the middle school and two brothers who also study in elementary school. I dropped out from school because I fought with my friend, but when I decided to return to school, my parents could not afford my school costs, so I took the equality program to take my middle school certificate.
So far, I have done different types of works to earn money to support my family. I used to work as a bus cleaner. I cleaned buses from morning to evening. However, since the work made me vulnerable to traffic accidents and abuse, especially at night, I decided to quit my job.
Then, I worked as a transporter at a drinking water refill station. I found the work was quite easy. Unfortunately, one day, I was in a traffic accident and my employer fired me because of the accident.
Then, I worked in a silk screening company. The work was very exhausting because I had to go up and down stairs to transport the materials 15 kilos five times a day, and I was afraid of falling down, but I continued to work to help my family. I made up my mind to continue working in the silk screening company although the salary was lower. The good things to work in the silk screening company are that I do not need to work under the sun anymore and I can work with kind and humorous people.
Participation in the “It´s Time to Talk”-Campaign
In September 2016 we had the chance to become part of the “It’s Time to Talk” campaign. When I was involved in the Time to Talk campaign for the first time, I was afraid. However, after participating in the first meeting, I was motivated to learn more about the rights of the child, especially the rights of working children. I was also happy because I could know more people and have new friends. We have learned a lot of things, especially about working children and we have felt connected to other working children all over the world.
Through It’s Time to Talk more than 1,800 working children across 36 countries were able to share their views and messages. Children shared different reasons and motivations for their work. They work because their family is poor. They also work to help their parents do their work at home so that they can finish it sooner and get more money. Some children work to get new skills and experiences. Some work to pay education costs. Children sometimes work because their parents are sick or dead so that they have to work to meet their basic needs. Some children are proud of their work because by working, they can help their parents.
In Indonesia we are part of the Children’s Advisory Committee for It’s Time Talk. We have been involved in meetings to make recommendations for policy and programs to improve the lives of children not only in Indonesia, but also all over the world. We met with Government ministers in Jakarta to share our experiences and messages. The messages include protection from harmful work and children’s greater access to quality education and health services without discrimination. We also hope the government will create child-friendly cities. Some of us work in hazardous places until late at night. Therefore, we hope the government will make a policy to ensure that children are protected from abuse and exploitation.
What governments should do to support us
We think the government needs to offer fairer development programs in urban and rural areas so that all families have access to good services and good jobs. This would help prevent parents from leaving their villages to go and work in a city. It is also important to provide parents with necessary skills to enable them to run their own business and ensure that they will not be dependent on others.
In our meeting with government ministers in Jakarta we discussed how businesses have an important role to play to improve children’s lives. Big business should not threaten small businesses, as this makes it difficult for our parents and family members to earn a good living. Big business should find ways to support small businesses and skill training for parents and youth from poor families so that our basic needs can be met and we can fulfill our dreams.
In other Time to Talk consultations working children from different parts of the world shared messages to improve education and vocational skill training. Businesses can support good quality education for all children. The business sector could also share and use their profits to supportlife skill training and provide business capital for disabled children and school dropouts so they can improve their lives.
The Government also needs to make a policy or law on child labour that includes rules for the business sector to ensure that they will protect children from harmful work and abuse, and not exploit children. Businesses should not allow children to do hazardous work or heavy work. Children should not be exploited – girls and boys should not be asked to work long hours or be paid low wages. If we work we should be paid fair wages and working conditions should be improved.
We have a dream that there will be joint efforts between children, families, communities, governments and the business sector to promote and fulfill children’s rights.
We really encourage businesses to listen to working children like us because so far, adult workers are more appreciated and prioritized than child workers. We also hope our voice will be heard and our work will be appreciated. Children are also part of business – as consumers and workers, including indirect workers who help their parents do their work at home.
We want you to improve the quality of lives for children, especially us, the working children.
Our question for the panel is : how can businesses make safe opportunities for children from poor families to share their views and concerns?”