Today’s blog post was written by our student journalists on deadline.
Today we split into groups and went to two destinations. One group went to the beach at the Marginal, one of the most upmarket places in Mozambique. The people from the informal economy there complained that their jobs were not well paying and their lives were hard, but little did the students know that the other group went to a place much harsher. A place where no one deserves to work — a landfill.
When we arrived at the landfill, we saw food and chicken meat, flip flops, shoes, boxes of plastic, crates of cans, books and pens. We had never seen anything like this before. The worst part of the location was the air which was simply bad and not healthy at all, but the people worked in it picking out materials to sell and carrying heavy loads.
We were rejected by some of the workers, but soon a woman opened up to us and shared her story. Albertina is a 31 year old pregnant women who works in the dump to earn a livelihood and support her three children. As we found out more about Albertina’s story, we were able to empathize and learn about a place only 10 minutes from our school which we knew nothing about.
We were surprised to see children working there because we thought parents would keep young children inside their houses. They were working hard and fast sorting things out of the garbage. When garbage trucks came, we saw children and adults running towards them so they could get money by gathering and selling reusable material. Children do not deserve such a life; they deserve something better. They deserve what we have — good food, proper education, time to play.
Students who went to the Marginal also encountered child labor. They met a boy who sold peanuts and boiled eggs on the beach. When we asked him his age, we were shocked. He looked like he was 7 years old but was actually ten. We thought that he was malnourished. He was on holiday from school, and his parents needed him to work.
In both groups, we felt guilty because of the pain we felt in the moment. As we saw people flocking towards the mountains of garbage or trying to sell peanuts to support their family, it brought us sadness.
When we returned to school, we took time to reflect on our experiences. We realize how grateful we should be for everything we have. Learning about these workers taught us not everyone is there by choice. We have a goal to help the people in the dump and influence the community to make a difference about this heartbreaking situation.