Christine del Benin

Fabio interview with Christine, an Ejt (enfants jeunes travailleur) from Benin, a little girl who provides domestic services in the market of Santa Rita Cotonou.

The story of Christine

A widespread phenomenon in this country is the trafficking of children. At one time it was said of the people who left the village in search of work to go into the city, but it was different, it was part of the tradition back to the village after year to visit family and friends. Having made ​​his fortune in the city was no reason to go back to bring gifts. Often it happened that on their return they would find the poorest village and relatives who could not feed their children. It became almost obligatory to make a concrete gesture of solidarity by taking care of these children bringing with them to make them grow and allow them to return later to the village with a job. Who took charge of these children treated them like their children to school thinking, and training for a job, and today this tradition has turned into exploitation: the stories you hear are not those of the past, but bring with them stories of sadness, no respect for people and the children become the victims of a war between the poor.

The story of Christine is one of the many girls who had to leave his parents and his friends in the village.

Christine was taken away from his village without taking into account the young age of 6 years, but the only thing that was taken into account is that he was healthy and strong. We speak together after a meeting at the headquarters of the Movement of child workers, and more precisely at a shack near the market where she works in Cotonou. With us, there are a dozen boys, all of them are listening to Christine and everyone would like to talk, but they are all identical stories and then leave to Christine the task of representing all. Christine is the headquarters of the MAEJT as well as all his friends when their owners let them go, but not more than 2/3 hours a week. It says here that he meets other kids, learn to dance, to read, to write with the help of some volunteers, the school has only heard about it, everyone loves and likes to come here as well as to all the boys 50-60 of his age.

Christine at the home of the EJT Cotonou

With her sweet smile, but which retains the bitterness that he left his village, he begins to tell his story.

“I arrived in Cotonou when I was 6 years old: the bonne famme, those people who sell at the market and they have their trade activities to the market in the city, came looking at Amaco my village 200km from here. They asked my parents to be able to bring with them into the city because I could study, learn a trade, earn money. “

What do you do? How much you get paid by the bonne femme?

“You do not gain anything, no money from me, in the evening when the whole family of my bosses has finished eating give something to me, and I think this is my salary. I start work at six in the morning and finish at eleven o’clock at night cleaning the house mistress. When I arrive at the market in the morning the first thing I do is clean the counter and on the floor, then put it on the counter products (tomatoes, onions , fruits, vegetables) and start to sell. About nine o’clock comes my mistress and I take a bucket to put in a little ‘ of products to go around the streets to sell. Meeting so many kids like me around the city, each with its bowl on her head full of products, but do not have the time to stop nor speak, nor to know . At about eighteen return to the market, then I go home the master to prepare dinner for all five and at the end of the harbor and the food at the market when everyone has finished I clean and rearrange. Then I go home where I still have to wash the children of the king and before going to sleep I have to tidy up the house . I can finally go to bed and I am always so tired that I fall asleep right away.”

JOB market Santa Rita – Cotonou

How many times have you seen his parents?

“Since I arrived in Cotonou have not yet been able to return to my village and now I’m sixteen. My mom and dad came to see me to talk to Cotonou la bonne famme, but I do not know what was said because if I asked what they had talked about the bonne famme he would beat me.”

Tell me what you do in place of EJT with the other boys

My teacher came to the house bonne famme to ask permission to attend the headquarters of EJT, but I come here just two hours a week to attend a course to learn how to read and write and learn how to do dressmaker. I love coming here because you learn to make beautiful things, and you know the rights of working children. This is my halfway house and I learn so much here.

Would you like to learn a job?

I would like to learn a job as a seamstress for example do because I want to be someone one day and one day so we can help my parents.

Would you be happy to come back to your village from your parents?

I can not go back to my village because my parents did not have anything to eat and if my parents decided to send me here I have to stay there. Only if they so wished I could go back to them.

Christine does not want to talk only about herself and concludes by saying: “Here there are so many children who suffer. We need help, money for anyone to come to us to teach us a job, so when you come in Italy please talk to us.”

The story of Christine is an emblematic story common to many children in Benin. A sense of anger and melancholy tangle inside of me, there are no words after listening to the story of Christine. It has to do something with them and then try to study and implement the products to be imported and sold in Italy. We believe this is a chance to make some concrete actions and to offer these children the chance of a decent job. Meet and get to know these guys organizations gives us the opportunity to confront a difficult and sensitive issue of child labor that needs to be addressed only with an open and sincere dialogue done with them.