Interview: Looniva, Global Gathering Delegate from Nepal

Looniva, where are you from?

I am from Lalitpur, Nepal.

How is your living situation?

My living situation has been quite average right now since my sister started working. I live with my uncle and my aunt as well as my sister. My sister works in a college. Our parents live in a rented home alone.

How does a normal day look like for you? When do you get up, how many hours of work do you do? Do you also go to school?

A normal day for me is to get up, do the chores, go to school, come back and do the chores again and complete my school assignments. I wake up at 5 AM in the morning. I work for almost 3 to 4 hours in morning and in evening I would work for almost 3 more hours and after finishing my chores I would start my school assignments. I go to school at 10 AM and return at 4 PM.

Do you also have any free time?

Except Saturday (I usually have to work more hours during Saturdays) I have around 2 hours free time each day when I can expand my creativity. I like to write stories and paint in my free time.

What kind of job is it you do? What do you like about your job?

I started working when I was 11 years old. I am a domestic laborer, I work at my relative’s house. I get to do anything I want such as studying, attending CAC meetings and many things, these are the things I like about my job.

Can you tell me how many hours you work in a normal week? 

In a normal week, I work for around 42 hours excluding my extra work hours during Saturday.

Do you provide for your family with your income?

No, I don’t earn enough to provide my family with my income. I just get a minimal amount of money (around NRP 2500 to 3000) during Dashain festival when I get to visit my family and that is also just once a year. The rest of the money is kept for food and accommodation and school.  My parents can’t pay for my education. All school expenses are paid by my uncle and aunt.

Do you visit your parents just once a year at the Dashain-Festival? Do you miss them? How far away from you are they living?

I visit my parents only on Dashain, I miss them, but I have to travel for about 4- 5 hours to go to my parent’s place. Sometimes mom and dad come to visit me, but I go to school at that time and when I come back from school there is only a little time left to meet with my parents as they have to return home soon again. I am not happy with my current situation. I would like to live with  my parents but due to the condition of my family and the quality of education in the village, I am forced to work for my better education.

What do you think about children that work? What do they need most?

Children that work cannot be described in exact words – they might be children who need to work to eat a single meal or those who are just working to help out their parents or might be who work because of their interest.

They need support from elders and also their basic rights which includes their education, shelter, food, etc. In my opinion, if the state can take care of children up to the age of 18, then the children will be happy and do not have to work. It is not important to children to get opportunity to work in early age of their life. However as their family condition is poor they are forced to work.

Why were you chosen to take part in the Dialogue Works Global Gathering?

First, it was my interest and second all the members agreed to it because they could see the potential in me to speak as their representatives and as a representative of each and every child laborer, they believed that I would achieve a contribution globally about child labor.

How did you get there?

As a working child and also a CAC member my name was suggested by all the local CAC members of my district. When we got the invitation sent to our CAC for global gathering, all the local CACs voted for the members who would go to the conference and they also voted for me.

How did you experience the conference? Do you think it might change some things?

The conference was exactly the platform we needed to express ourselves, learn new objectives, learn about our goals and to have friends who could understand our situation so well.

Yes, it might change things as we will advocate about more topics and get to teach all child laborer their basic rights and fight for it. As a benefactor point we could also work to achieve something globally.

What could politicians do to make life better for children that work?

Politicians are also the major stakeholders for child laborers. In the context of Nepal and also in many other countries there are laws, policies about child labor which are too good which seems like it would eradicate all the child labor rate but it isn’t implemented which matters a lot. As politicians are the system, they should implement laws and provide basic employment facilities to parents resulting to rapid decrease in child labor.