Teens engage in hazardous work to fulfill family needs

DHAKA- It is a common scenario for Dhaka city that lots of teens are working at different kinds of shops and street-based trading. Most of them have been forced to get involved themselves in work before their proper age for fulfilling their family's basic needs.

One of such boys is Rajab Ali, a 14-year-old teen who sells boiled egg from 4pm to 10pm in New Market areas every day. Rajab gets the salary of Taka 3500 per month with free living and food at his shop owner's residence. He sends his total income to his poor family living at a village.

"I'm from southeastern Comilla district ... I had to come in Dhaka for earning money as my father didn't bear expenses of his seven siblings -- six sons and one daughter," said Rajab, a primary school dropout.

After being dropped out from the school at grade 4 for poverty, Rajab started taking care of their cattle.

"But, after seeing extreme poverty of my family, I decided to move here to earn some money. When I first took the job, my salary was Taka 2000. But as soon as I achieved the skill of selling eggs like an adult man my salary was increased," said Rajab who spends his leisure time by chatting and listening to songs.

Arif, another teenage boy, also sells boiled eggs at different streets of busy areas like Shahbagh and Nilkhet. It is not his only way of earning. He also works as an assistant of his builder father at day time. Arif came here with his parents from Noakhali district as his father didn't manage any work at their village.

"It's tough to sell eggs after assisting my father all day. But no way, I have to do it for my living," said Arif who earns Taka 300 to 400 per day by selling eggs.

Shafiqul Islam Shuvo, a grade 10 student, works at a bookstore at Nilkhet area from 9 am to 9 pm. "Actually my father failed to bear my educational expenses. That's why I decided to earn money to continue my study," said Shuvo, who came to Dhaka from Kochaghat thana of Kurigram district.

"I will do this job for next couple of months. Now I am getting Taka 6,000 per month as salary. As soon as I can save some money for my study, I will return home and join school again," said Shuvo, who dreams of studying at university one day.

Chairman of Bangladesh Shishu Odhikar Forum Emranul Haq Chowdhury said it is somehow positive that these children help their families from their own earnings. "We have to supplement the government's strides to pull out all the children from hazardous works," he said.

Chowdhury said the government is striving to ensure a healthy life and livelihood for all children who are involved in unsafe work.

"But there is a fund constraint for this task," he said, adding that the government needs to take more initiatives to achieve its goal of rescuing 13 lakh children who are presently engaged in different hazardous jobs.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)