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BY Monica Cheru Creative Editor

In Mabvuku, young hewers of wood can be seen at dusk on school days or during the day on weekends and holidays.They get the firewood from Donny Brooke Racecourse and at times risk the Cleveland Shooting Range. The wood is for sale or own use as the cost of gas and electricity is beyond the reach of their families.

Child labourers can be seen begging in the streets with some dubious paper asking for donations for school fees. They trawl the streets, usually after school hours, accosting any promising face. Make no mistake, that this is like middle class kids selling raffle tickets to raise money for some school project. This is a real job.

Or they are the tragic little vendor that you stop and buy from because you feel guilty for not doing something, anything to mitigate the obvious plight in your face.Others are child-minders who must also cook and clean for their younger siblings. Family child labour is also common in rural areas and on farms. These young breadwinners contribute an important portion to their family’s basic needs, including daily sustenance. Without their income, the families would be worse off.

We have wonderful laws in Zimbabwe concerning child labour, which effectively limit options of legal more lucrative and less strenuous work that these children can access outside their homes.

So, they are caught in the prison of family child labour.

The child labourers in our society have to juggle education, play and earning. And in most circumstances, it is their education that suffers.

The schools they attend are not exactly well resourced and there are overcrowded classes where the teacher has no time or opportunity to attend to individual needs. The cycle of poverty and poor education is a globally documented phenomenon that very few argue against.