Children of CmiA smallholder cotton farmers learn how to read and write
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 170 million children worldwide between the ages of 5 and 17 have to work. Standing up for the rights of children is a key issue for the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative. In collaboration with the renowned American children’s book author, Donald Grant, the initiative has created illustrations with child labour as the theme to inform people in the cotton regions about this important issue and to raise awareness for it.
“For many children in the world instead of having the opportunity to play and go to school, they are forced to perform hard physical labour on a daily basis. We are actively taking a stand against this issue and have thus incorporated the requirements of all ILO core labour standards into the CmiA criteria and control their compliance regularly on site. This means exploitative child labour is strictly forbidden,” explains Christoph Kaut Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation. In order to communicate these requirements to farmers in a clear and comprehensible manner, the foundation has created illustrations with the prestigious American children’s book author and illustrator Donald Grant. The aim of the illustrations is to educate about the dangers of child labour and show the smallholder farmers that compliance with the CmiA criteria has a positive impact on their lives and those of their families. The drawings depict the daily life of a smallholder farmer and are shown as part of training to allow people to draw parallels to their own lives. Examples with reference to the everyday life in a village illustrate measures against child labour and show that it pays to protect the welfare and future of children.
Grant, who lives as a freelance author and illustrator in Paris, has been traveling the CmiA project regions for weeks on assignment to get a sense of what motivates people and how the story should be told in order to be truly convincing. “I had to first of all understand how my audience ticks, what appeals to them, what they enjoy, what moves them. I think the stories work because they truly reflect what people see and experience every day. They can become immersed in the illustrations and identify with the characters.”
Another focus of CmiA in the fight against child labour are the cooperation projects that promote the construction of schools, cafeterias, and school gardens and make it thus possible for many children in remote regions to even attend school.