Rami, a Working Child

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Rami* is a 10-year-old child who used to live with his family in the vicinity of Aleppo. Rami’s family experienced tragic days when the war broke out in their neighbourhood. They had no choice but to flee the area.   “I have six children to feed with little income to sustain them. Our small cottage on the outskirts of Aleppo has become a bad memory for them. Every time we mention it, tears fill their big eyes and fall down their small cheeks.” Rami’s father said. The father took his family to Jaramana neighbourhood in Rural Damascus, where they found an unfinished house to live in. The family’s situation started to deteriorate gradually on many levels. “My work in freelance barely sustained my family for few days during the month. My wife is always busy taking care of the little children. When I decided to send Rami to work his mother cried all night”.  Said Rami’s father. The 10-year-old child is working as a delivery boy in a supermarket in the morning. His day begins early to the orders of his boss and to the tiresome labour of delivering grocery bags to the neighbours. Rami’s work continues at night as he collects plastic bags for very little in return. “My father does not have a stable income. My mother cannot work because she looks after my siblings. I feel overloaded with responsibility. I see children going to school and I sometimes I envy them.I long to be one of these children and get an education.”, Said Rami. SOS Children’s Villages team saw the young boy in the street. They told him about SOS Drop-in Centre, where he can come at any time, and stay for as long as he wishes. The main objective of the Drop-In Centre is to provide street children with their basic needs such as a comfortable place, hygiene requirements, health services, and psychosocial support. The centre also aims to improve their well-being through empowering them with education, and life skills. Rami visited the centre. His physical situation was relatively well, but his health condition was declined because of the unhealthy circumstances within which he lives and works. Thus, he first received the basic needs like medicine and nutrition to recover quickly. However, SOS staff of facilitators noticed that the child was not really able to define his needs because of the deprivation he has always lived in. “He had an obvious fear of all his surroundings, it was very difficult for him to trust anyone. His psychosocial skills were disturbed, but he was remarkably clever. What grabbed our attention the most was that Rami had a passion for singing! I heard him hum by coincidence, then guided him to our staff of teachers to develop this talent. The little boy also seemed interested in studying and eager to learn.” Said Muhammed, Drop-in Centre supervisor. “I like the food here in the centre, and I like the garments they gave to me, too! The lessons are also fun and the activities make me forget about my exhausting labour.” Said Rami. Overtime, Rami showed a notable improvement. His health condition got better, and his interest for education was obvious through the educational and supportive activities. He also participates in entertainment activities where he sings beautifully with his friends. “Whenever I think of my child going to work, I feel helpless. I would have never sent him to work if I could afford his schooling and have enough income. I know he is being exposed to many dangers out there, but what can I do?” Said Rami’s father. SOS Children’s Villages put a plan to help Rami and his siblings overcome their troubles through psychosocial support activities that have an impact on their educational level, preparing them to go to school. Also, we are working now on the enrolment in anti-child labour project, through which the family will be able to get the needed help. Throughout this project, the children will be registered in school, with their full stationary and uniforms provided. Rami’s parents will also have allowances for each child to cover the different life cost. “I feel that SOS has become my friend!” Said Rami.  *The name of the child was changed to protect his privacy