Rwanda was on Wednesday named among the eight African countries that will benefit from a $20.4m grant from the United States of America aimed at combating child labour.
According to Hilda L. Solis, the US Secretary of Labour, the funds will be instrumental in finding a lasting solution to the continuous global challenge – of child labour.
There is no doubt that the support from the US government is welcome. However, as Africans or Rwandans in particular, we should seriously consider strengthening our home-grown initiatives to complement the funding.
There are key elements that can help curb child labour that cannot be converted into monetary terms or that money can’t buy – the attention, love and close watch from the parents and adults in general.
It should be every adult’s responsibility to keep a close eye over the children around them and not leave it to parents alone.
Such communal care was a core value of our ‘Ubuntuness’ identified with the African tradition of putting the community’s interests first.
Meaning that a child did not belong to an individual family, but the collective in the whole community who then ensured its welfare.
Mechanisms should be put in place to reintroduce these lost communal traditions.
Children are being forced to drop out even when schooling is free to work in tea plantations or in other people’s homes.
This must not be tolerated. Local government authorities, child welfare experts, community leaders and rights activists should prioritise sensitising parents and employers on the dangers of child labour and trafficking.
Further to that, heavy punitive measures should be included in the law to punish those found guilty of employing or trafficking children.
Children are our investment as the future leaders of this country, let us take greater care to guide and give them time to enjoy their childhood years.
As it has been said; ‘A child is not born with values’, let them cherish the values we impart on them, at an early age.