Posted by: ewkigo | December 7, 2011

Child Labor in Malian Gold Mines

I recently came across an article about child labor in the Malian gold mines. Children as young as six years old are mining gold in Mali to help make ends meet. Unfortunately, this extremely dangerous for their health. To mine gold, one needs mercury which, when exposed to it, causes various health issues; children are most susceptible to these health issues. Mercury can serious affect the nervous system and cause damage to the brain resulting in various physical and emotional disorders. It can cause muscle weakness, skin rashes, impairment of speech, hearing, walking and peripheral vision, memory loss and mental disturbances; all of which the child labor force in Malian gold mines have complained about. These children want to go to school and learn but they say they have to work to earn money to pay for their books and school. Nine, ten, twelve year olds are working their way through elementary level education. That only happens here in college. Ou

r education up until high school is free and we take it for granted. Not paying attention in school, getting pregnant at 16, being distracted by sex and drugs while on the other side of the world there are young children trying to help provide for their families and get an education. Think about your child, your younger brother or sister, cousins, nieces, nephews…

Although the UN states 16 as the acceptable age for a child to start working, and 18 if exposed to dangerous and/or extreme situations, many families in third world countries need the help of their children, despite their age, to survive day by day. Child labor in third world countries is a major issue because many families need more than two incomes to survive. Despite how heartbreaking and disappointing it is, in most cases it’s necessary. Families with two able and working parents are a blessing that many people take for granted around here. In Mali, there are very few natural resources that the country has, one of them being gold. Majority of Malians live on less than $1.25 a day. Below the poverty line in Mali. Of course the cost of living is relative base on the cost of live but regardless, $1.25 is nothing. That’s less than the cost of the Sunday paper.

Sometimes Americans wonder why foreigners do so much better than them, especially when it comes to education. It’s quite simple actually, they are motivated from the time they are very young and Americans don’t always feel that type of motivation. People who are intrinsically motivated and determined to make their lives and the lives of those who they love better are always a little different and it’s always a little harder to beat them. They’ve known the bad and the ugly and they believe its their turn to experience the good and they’ll be damned if anyone stops them. They work harder because they want it more. I’ve watched way too many people go through the motions of high school and college because they’re required to do so. They barely make it through and don’t even care about how well they do then they turn around and complain that immigrants and foreigners are taking their jobs. Unless you’re a Native American, you’re a foreigner as well and you need to get off your high horse and work hard and fight for that job, or whatever is, that the immigrants are taking from you.

 

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