Maritu, a 16-year-old Ethiopian girl from Zenzelma village, quit school in grade seven to look for a job. “The work is extremely difficult and harsh, but I have no option,” said Maritu. “There is no shelter, restroom, or water throughout the day. I suffer from pain in my hands, shoulders, and back.”
Maritu is not alone—approximately 80% of Ethiopian youth are out of school by age 15. This leaves youth either working unpaid on family farms or in the worst forms of child labor—domestic service, agriculture, textiles, fishing, and mining. “At the age of 13, I began working for one of the stone crushing companies in Zenzelma,” Maritu said. “For two years, I worked for nine hours a day, 23 days a month, with only a 30-minute lunch break, earning 35 Ethiopian Birr ($1.60) daily.”
World Vision’s U.S. Department of Labor-funded “Engaged, Educated, Empowered, Ethiopian Youth” (E4Y) project set up child labor registration committees in early 2016 to identify children engaged in harmful or dangerous forms of labor. Maritu was registered and enrolled in E4Y’s educational summer camp program to help her develop career skills. The project then facilitated entrepreneurship and career guidance training for Maritu through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs, which helped her identify and choose decent employment. Maritu and other registered youth are given a choice to complete their education or train in a vocation.
Thus far, 1,885 youth who were out of school and engaged in child labor have graduated from TVET after acquiring marketable skills training of their choosing. World Vision continues to support graduates by linking them with business owners in their communities to obtain jobs and by encouraging them to create their businesses through entrepreneurship and business start-up kit support.
With World Vision’s help, Maritu stopped working at the stone crushing company and attended vocational training at the leading technical college of Amhara region. She now works as a cook in a three-star hotel. “This was only possible with the help of the E4Y project,” said Maritu, with a smile.