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Waste picking is one of the worst forms of child labour and causes irreversible damage to health. Bangladesh has a large waste picking community. ChildHope, and our Bangladesh partner Grambangla Unnayan Committee (GUC) are working on lives and livelihood issues to support this vulnerable community.

In Dhaka alone, over 120,000 women and children earn a living by waste picking. At one of the largest dumpsites in the country 2,500 waste pickers work every day for their survival. In January 2018, we conducted research on 400 Dhaka waste pickers. We learnt that 31% are engaged in child labour. Among them, 58.8% are engaged in waste picking; 6.1% work as cleaners on public transport; 22.8% work in factories.

Waste picking is the occupation of the poorest of the poor, and predominantly a female role with 73.5% involved in this work, many separated or divorced (3.1%) or widowed (3.6%). These women have between 3 to 5 children, and no flexible working or childcare. They have no choice but to take their children with them, starting work at 6:00 a.m. in the dump site until 4:00 p.m. From a young age the children play amongst the dump, and by 10-12 years old become the breadwinner of the family. All children deserve a childhood, and an education.

To protect the children from hazardous child labour and improve their situation, GUC with the support of ChildHope established Grambangla day care centre giving primary school education and a tailoring vocational training centre for the waste picker’s children. Once it was a distant dream, now over 300 students are enjoying care and education. To make lasting change we informed parents on the effects of child labour and the importance of education. We consulted with the garment factory employers, government officials, media personals and dumpsite authorities on the issue of child labour, reviewed “Labour Law of Bangladesh” and the working environment which needs to restrict the entry of the children in the dump site and attend school regularly.

You can help more children receive an education and care in a safe environment away from the smells and hazardous waste found on a dump site.

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