Connie Xiao : World Day Against Child Labour 2020; Voices of DCI Youth Leaders

“I nearly suffocated inside the pits due to lack of oxygen…”

I need to tell you a story. It’s the story of someone who has been robbed and exploited to the utmost degree. This is the story of Hamisi.

Unbeknownst to his family, Hamisi boarded a bus and traveled 70 kilometers away from his home to an unfamiliar village. Alone and without a single possession, Hamisi spent several days in this village desperately searching for work at a local mining site to help feed his family. One day, he got lucky. Hamisi was hired to travel back and forth between the earth’s surface and the mining pits below, delivering tools and water bottles to coworkers around him. Each subsequent day, he plummeted 300 meters into the ground, submerging himself in total darkness and extreme heat. In these underground tunnels, Hamisi would breathe in graphite dust rather than eat food.
He would work 18 hours a day rather than hang out with friends. He would toil for a daily pay of 60 cents rather than gain knowledge inside a classroom. Hamisi gave up his family and his home for a future that only crushed him. But unlike most other stories, our main character is only 11. Hamisi is still a child.

There are 152 million children around the world who have a story like Hamisi’s. These child laborers are robbed of an education, fair pay, and healthy physical development. They are forced to abandon both their futures and their childhoods at the hands of a greedy and selfish world.

I think of Hamisi’s rough, dirtied hands and look at my own. Unlike him, I was undeservingly given a childhood of freedom and ease. Now, it is my responsibility to fight for every child who does not have the same privilege – who was forced or deceived into soul-crushing labor. I hope you listen to every story like Hamisi’s. I hope you advocate for the 152 million lost voices of the world. It is time for child labor to end. Together, we can make it happen.

Connie Xiao
Youth Leader, Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI)

Connie Xiao was born and raised in Connecticut. She is currently studying towards a BS in International Politics with a minor in International Development at Georgetown University. She hopes to dedicate her future towards aiding vulnerable populations who suffer from hunger, poverty, inadequate resources, and migration crises. Connie has been a youth volunteer with DCI since 2020.