Sajal has to do dangerous work to help feed his family

Sajal has to do dangerous work to help feed his family

Sajal (14) works 12-hour days in a motorbike shop in Nilpamari Sadar, Bangladesh

“I don’t want to work here but I’ll starve if I don’t.”

Instead of going to school and playing with his friends, 14-year-old Sajal works 12 hours a day in a dangerous job to help his struggling family.

His father works hard as a day labourer but like many farmers in Nilphamari Sadar, he can’t earn enough to meet his family’s daily needs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, things only got harder. Sajal’s parents had to make an impossible decision. They could no longer afford to send both Sajal and his younger sister to school. So at the age of 13, Sajal was forced to drop out of school and go to work.

He found a job as a child labourer in a motorbike repair shop. He gets paid US$16 a month and gives everything he earns to his family.

Once Sajal dreamed of becoming a doctor. Now he’s just trying to survive.

“The work I do at the workshop is very painful,” he says. “I often get cuts and bruises on my hands, and I have to lift very heavy machinery.”

Life is really tough for Sajal. Poverty has robbed him of his childhood and his choices.

“I don’t want to work here but I’ll starve if I don’t. The kids I used to go to school with now bully me sometimes. They tell me that I don’t belong with them anymore now that I have to work while they get to go to school.”

The fallout of COVID-19 has forced more children in Sajal’s community into child labour. And it’s put more girls at risk of child marriage as poverty forces parents to make impossible choices.

Right now, your kindness is reaching children like Sajal in Nilphamari Sadar. Your love and care will join forces with local government, faith leaders and faith communities to protect children from child labour, early marriage and sexual violence. And you’ll train and support families to grow nutritious fruit and vegetables at home, so they can feed their children. With you by their side, girls and boys like Sajal can build a brighter future. Thank you.