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Roboteca #04 Get down to work (LBN)

Based on UNICEF’s 2016 Baseline Survey, it is estimated that child labour currently affects some 100,000 children in Lebanon. While the number of Lebanese children involved in child labour has tripled between 2009 and 2016, this project comes as an advocacy tool against child labour to prevent exploitation of vulnerable children in the streets.

Due to the high security status of the neighbourhood, we created a unique space for the children to escape from the noisy streets of Jnah area (South suburbs of Beirut) by using a chroma keying photobooth. In the ten days of the workshop, 15 children explored photography tools to realise their dream work. The conversation started: “What would you like to do when you grow up?” While Mohammed got rid of his roses to wear the costume of an astronaut, Maram put her broom aside to become a hairdresser.

In April 2019, Jungleye conducted a Roboteca workshop for Streets and Working Children (SaWC)* of Beirut in collaboration with Lucciana Baradhi, Lebanese illustrator. This project was implemented in partnership with Makhzoumi Foundation and Les Enfants de le Méditerranée (LEM) and funded by UNHCR and the European Union.

Get down to work is the reality of their daily routine catching up on their dreams. Shahira shared the story of her friend from school who is now working in the market down her street, Youssef told us about the first day he changed the tire of a motorbike and Ahmed explained to us how to repair our smartphones.

Subverting the technique of photo portraits, children created facial composites, that was first used as an investigation tool by law enforcement. This type of photo collage was also a way to confront the issue of photography consent that was not always given by the parents. The children cut down into pieces and rearranged photos of their faces as an homage to all working children who are deprived of their childhood. The green background of the portraits place these stories in a general context as a reminder that the phenomenon of working children exists in many countries.

Choosing the right words to write their stories, children started the dialogue about the impact of child labour, the deprivation of childhood and education. We identified through their stories four main factors that push children to work on Lebanese streets: social exclusion, vulnerability of households, arrival of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and exploitation of children.

* SaWC: Children (0-17) earning their living through working on the street either by selling products, begging, or collecting products from the street. SaWC are considered at high risk as they are involved in the worst forms of child labor as identified by the International Labour Organization. 

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