Driven by poverty, Mwanaid (16) from Tanzania dropped out of school and began working in the goldmines when she was only thirteen years old. Every day she had to crush ore from six o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock in the evening. A dangerous and unhealthy environment for a young girl. Social worker Anthony Louis Mwangake (27) identified her and helped her getting support to stop the exploitative labour. Mwanaid started a vocational training and feels safe again.
I felt unsafe without my mother
Mwanaid Abeid (16 years), from Kahama, Tanzania
"I cannot remember how old I was when I had to drop out of school, I was in class four. After my parents separated, my mother and I moved in with my grandmother. At home there was no money. When I was thirteen I went to the gold mines. The first two and a half years I worked in makeshift food stalls in the mining villages. I earned about € 2.10 per day. Then I shifted to crushing ore. Every day from six o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock in the evening I was hammering, without a break. With that work I earned a lot more, about € 8.45 per day. However, very often I did not get paid at all. And there was nothing I could do about it. I felt unsafe without my mother. As a girl alone, it was very dangerous in the mines. My sleeping place was a tent in the mining village. So many girls got raped. Now I'm the only girl in the training for electrician, but that does not bother me at all. The training centre is my home for now, and it feels very safe. For my future, it is important to have professional skills. "
Mwanaid is determined when it comes to her future
Anthony Louis Mwangake (27 years), social worker
" I first met Mwanaid in the mines. Together with the local authorities, I checked her background. The girl was not only working in the mines, but she was also living all by herself - another reason to intervene. Moreover, Mwanaid herself said she wanted to quit the heavy and dangerous work.
In consultation with her mother, we have withdrawn Mwanaid from the mines. Together, we have selected an appropriate training. Through face to face counselling sessions we helped her to deal with her traumatic experience in the mines. Those conversations were facilitated by my female colleague Naomi, with a view to potentially sensitive topics.
In the vocational centre, Mwanaid first joined a special class for former child labourers. These children have to learn how to adapt to the rhythm, the routines and the rules of the school, after their 'free' life in the mines. For that reason, I always make sure that the ex child labourers are allowed extra time to complete their training.
After about two months, Mwanaid was able to take the next step and join a regular class. But I still follow up on her regularly. At least once a month I visit her. Then we talk about how things are going. If she is happy or if something is bothering her. Fortunately Mwanaid is a "model student" who has no adjustment problems all. Her choice to stop working in the mines was very deliberate, and she is very determined when it comes to her future. I have no doubt that Mwanaid will succeed!"