“Community Fairs (or ferias comunitarias) bring together children, parents and community members to discuss important topics such as education, the environment, children’s rights, child labour and access to decent work” shared a student from B-16 school in San José la Maquina. In a rural area of Guatemala, children, teens and young people are gathering entire communities and national institutions to raise awareness on topics which are crucial in helping rural youth reach their full potential.
Children part of the solution
Community Fairs give students the opportunity not only to voice their opinion but also to share examples of good practices that have worked in their community to get children back into education and away from child labour. As well as providing space for the students to raise awareness on these important topics, participation in the fairs have also taught the students new skills in organisation, communication, teamwork and public speaking to both communities and official institutions.
Education and collaboration
One of the topics discussed was education. “Education is fundamental. Without quality education we cannot access decent work opportunities” shared a student. The children added that an important part of fighting children labour is raising awareness amongst children and parents about the impact that attending quality education has on their living standards and access to decent work opportunities.
“To improve education in rural areas we need we need continued support from people who have the capacity, from to local level to the national government.” The Community Fairs were attended and supported by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Social Development, the Office of the Ombudsman for Indigenous Women, the Secretariat of Food and Nutrition Security, the Chamber of Commerce of Suchitepéquez, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Presidential Secretariat for Women and the Ministry of the Interior. Collaboration at both local and national level provides sustainable solutions to promoting children’s rights, supporting education and fighting child labour.
Combatting child labour & accessing decent work
“What is our objective? We want now children to be working in dangerous conditions, for them to study and have a better quality of life” shared one of the students on the topic of child labour. Teachers speaking about the dangers of child labour and support from parents to encourage their children to continue studying will keep children and teens in school and away from hazardous work in fields. “By creating posters, flyers, speaking on local radio and TV shows we will promote community fairs and help people understand what can be achieved if communities come together to improve the lives of their children and end child labour”
The fairs also provided spaces for the students to set up stands raising awareness on other topics including prevention of sexual violence, art exhibitions, maths contests, and to sell crafts and products made during their job skills training classes. Over 350 people attended the fairs over two days including the Governor of the of Suchitepéquez and community leaders and teachers from other areas of the Municipality, who shared the importance of holding community fairs covering the entire territory.