Nor Sud and Niños, Niñas, Adolescentes, y Jóvenes Trabajadores (NAYJT) (Sucre, Bolivia)

IHRP Intern Jared Kelly interviews child worker in Sucre, Bolivia
IHRP Intern Jared Kelly interviews child worker in Sucre, Bolivia

The thousand pages of indigenous land rights materials I secured in Toronto prior to my departure have steadily been gathering dust since my arrival in Sucre.  "My" NGO, Nor Sud, did not quite have the indigenous rights program that I expected, nor on my arrival did they have a concrete plan as to what to do with me.  I quickly realized I would need to adapt to how work gets done in Bolivia - in a word, slowly.  Not having the patience or temperament to sit in an office all day waiting for a computer to become available, nor to have a schedule built around marathon meetings, I devised a project that would free me from the bureaucracy and put me on the streets, working at a grassroots level, while still maintaining all critical ties to Nor Sud (which in the end has been of great help to me).

I am thus working with two organizations, with Nor Sud in an administrative and consultative capacity, and with Niños, Niñas, Adolescentes, y Jóvenes Trabajadores (NAYJT) on a day-to-day implementation level.  Unique to my experience is the opportunity to work with NAYJT, as it is an association exclusively run by child workers.  Their mission is to improve the working and living conditions of child workers, as well as to give a more powerful voice to children through the mobilization of their members.

To aid them in their mission, I have initiated a project that promises to fill several voids critical to the success of their objectives.  Using the Convention of the Rights of the Child (the "Convention") and Bolivia's State Reports (to the Committee on the Rights of the Child) summarizing their compliance to the Convention, I created a 65-item questionnaire that was designed to satisfy three main objectives.  First, the questionnaire will serve as a census of child workers in Sucre, as extremely little, if any, real data currently exists.  Secondly, the questionnaire's items correspond directly with articles from the Convention, including such topics as access to health care, cost of education, child abuse, and drug use.  With the results, NAYJT, Nor Sud, and other interested parties, will have concrete data to outline the gap existing between Bolivia's obligations under the Convention and the reality on the ground in Sucre.  Such data can be used to lobby municipal and national governments, raise funds at the national and international levels, and facilitate the inclusion of the child's voice in a soon-to-be created Constitutional Assembly that will amend Bolivia's Constitution.  Lastly, my project will have an immediate and practical function:  the creation of credentials (ID cards) for the child workers of Sucre.

The data that I will collect will be given both to NAYJT and to Nor Sud, of which the latter is helping fund my project and works closely with NAYJT.  I have currently interviewed and photographed over 200 child workers in Sucre (enough to give statistical power,) and will soon be analyzing the data and issuing identification cards.  My last few days will be spent collecting limited data and taking photos, so as to create as many credentials as possible before departing.  Knowing that reaching every child would not be possible in my stay, I have involved local workers and members of NAYJT from day one, with the hope that they will continue the project in my absence.  As my project has the full support of the Executive Board of NAYJT and of the administration at Nor Sud, I am optimistic the final aspect of my project - making ID cards for the child workers I will not be able to reach - will ultimately be completed.