Lara Cerosky (Nepal)

Lara is a French and German national and currently completing a master’s degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at SciencesPo Paris, where she is specialising in Global Risk and South and Central Asian Studies. As part of a class project, she is working for UNICEF Nepal, elaborating advocacy strategies to implement the national nutrition plan and raise awareness for malnutrition issues in Nepal. Simultaneous to her studies, she is volunteering at the French association France Terre d’Asile and helping asylum seekers in their legal, administrative and social procedures. Prior to that, earned a double-bachelor in social and political science between SciencesPo and the Freie Universität Berlin, where she specialised child rights, gender issues and refugee law. She has two passions in life: journalism and human rights. She started volunteering many years ago, as a part of Amnesty International Action Against Hunger, teaching children from minority communities. Her biggest project was building a school in the village of Dompleu, in Côte d’Ivoire. Her student association Afric@ction organized the project, raised funds, participated in the building process and discussed a cooperative project to empower local women. As a journalist, she interned in two newspapers, but her biggest achievements remain two amateur documentaries she produced for a French foundation called Zellidja. The first was in India, where she focused on social inequalities within the Indian society; the second was in Indonesia, where she gave a voice to indigenous clans from West-Papua, suffering from discrimination.



It happened last Week

19 Jun

The three girls from Sarasweti School are laughing because of one of Bijaya’s jokes. (Bhaktapur/LC)

 

 

It was the previous week.

 

It was Week 1 of my Nepalese adventure and my first week at CONCERN’s office. So many new smells, new words, new tastes and faces. As expected, I got lost several times, Bijaya told me I looked too much like a tourist, I tasted the famous curd from Bhaktapur added to chiurra (it’s delicious!) and I was again approached by a local hash dealer but this time (oh joy) I was also offered cocaine…

What I want to talk about though, is that an important moment happened last Tuesday, exactly one week ago, for the global fights against child labour.

Each year on June 12th, people around the world are highlighting the devastating condition of child labourers during this International Day Against Child Labour. The goal is of course to raise concern about Children’s Rights and about how to develop and implement solutions to stop their plight. It’s quite ironic, that the Convention on the Rights of the Child from 1989 is the most ratified Convention in the world (from the 193 states recognized by the UN, only the US did not ratify the treaty), but that child labour remains present in so many countries!

CONCERN is experiencing one program to eradicate child labour in brick factories from the Kathmandu valley. They work with 7 brick factories and 7 schools. Teachers and headmasters have been keen to receive these children against funding, and participating brick owners have been open to change.

The 10 children supported by CONCERN, their parents, the headmistress and Bijaya, at Dattayara School. It was hard to make them laugh but somehow it worked out! (Bhaktapur/LC)

 

We went to Bhaktapur where CONCERN supports three schools. We visited two of them to submit the checks covering the school fees: the Dattaraya School and the Saraswati School, where 10 and 3 children respectively are funded by CONCERN.

There is not free primary or secondary education like in France, Germany or the US. In Nepal, parents need to pay for the education of their child from class 1 (more or less 6 years old– depending on their level in school) onwards. Thus, many poor families, of whom some have also lost their home in the 2015 earthquake, are not able to fulfil the financial requirements of the education system. That’s where CONCERN is helping them, in paying school fees for children that used to work in brick kilns with the agreement of their parents. The checks cover admission fees, sanitary, exam fees, uniform and shoes, for a total of $140 per child a year.

Bijaya giving the check to the headmistress of Dattaraya School. (Bhaktapur/LC)

 

Since the 50 children program started in 2014, there have been a few drop-outs by children supported by CONCERN. However, it is critical for the wellbeing of the child to continue to go to school, as it is one of their fundamental rights and because it will gradually enable to break the circle of child labour through education. Drop-outs are majorly related to the family’s migration to another place, to a lack of awareness regarding the benefits of education, and simply because of ongoing poverty with the consequence that sending children at school prevents them from earning a few rupees a day.

The three mothers of the three girls enrolled at Saraswati School. (Bhaktapur/LC)

 

To avoid this kind of situation in the future, CONCERN worked on an mutual agreement form between parents and CONCERN about their child’s enrolment in school. It stipulates that if parents interrupt the 5-years support program, or if they continue to let their children work before or after school, they would have to pay back the annual fees. According to CONCERN, fearing the repayment would decrease the number of drop-outs and enable the supported children to go to school for at least the 5 years covered by the program.

Prakash explaining the agreement intended to prevent drop-outs. (Bhaktapur/LC)

 

One mother being helped by another one to sign the agreement with CONCERN. (Bhaktapur/LC)

 

If that solution works out, if the children do well at school, if they have been completely rescued from the kilns, and last but not least, if they are happy and healthy, you may discover it in my next posts! I will be visiting schools supported by CONCERN over the next few weeks and will come back with many stories and (hopefully) children’s smiles.

And for those who read that blog to the end, here’s a little surprise: the children from Dattaraya School singing the Nepali national anthem called “Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka” (Made of Hundreds of Flowers). I needed to cut the file because of its too large format, so there is only the beginning and the end. But it is nice!

 

 

Posted By Lara Cerosky (Nepal)

Posted Jun 19th, 2018

9 Comments

  • Samantha Givens

    June 20, 2018

     

    Hi Lara! What an interesting post, thank you for enlightening me on what going on. This pictures are incredible as well.

  • Ali West

    June 20, 2018

     

    Lara, I enjoyed learning more about CONCERN and what kind of work you will be doing over the next few weeks! I wish you all the best!

    • Lara Cerosky (Nepal)

      June 21, 2018

       

      Thanks Ali! I enjoyed writing about CONCERN’s mission and current campaign to eradicate child labour in the brick kilns through education. There is still a lot to do, but it may be an interesting and encouraging pilot project.

  • Corinne Cummings

    June 20, 2018

     

    Hi, Lara. I love the pictures you presented in this blog post; it made your posting come to life. The information included is informative in a manner that is easy to comprehend. I learned a lot of new things in this post about child labor within brick factories. Partnering with schools is an excellent idea as well as other brick factories. I am eager to hear more about the development of this concept. Good luck with these impactful endeavors that you will be doing for the next six months. Thanks for your posting. Best wishes, Corinne.

    • Lara Cerosky (Nepal)

      June 21, 2018

       

      Thank you Corinne 🙂 the information is easy to comprehend because my english is too bad to write anything more sophisticated 😉 I hope I will be able to inform the readers about how this brick owners-schools-CONCERN project is progressing. Thanks for your support!

  • Princia Vas

    July 2, 2018

     

    Lara, thank you for this informative blog. The pictures and video complemented very well to your post!

    • Lara Cerosky (Nepal)

      July 14, 2018

       

      Thank you Princia!

  • Iain Guest

    July 8, 2018

     

    Hi Lara. That was obviously a good trip to the schools! And the kids are in fine form, if not in tune! I am reassured to learn that parents pay back the loan if they take their kids out of school before the five years are finished, or put them back into work after school. We’re very much hoping you can follow up and check whether this is actually happening! Safe travels!

    • Lara Cerosky (Nepal)

      July 14, 2018

       

      Thanks Iain! I hope I’ll be able to follow-up with that new agreement CONCERN initiated. Wait and see

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