Child hawkers struggling to manage work and studies

Kathmandu, September 1 :

Taking work and studies together is a tough job and tougher for children. But when this is the only way one can fulfil the desire to keep studies going, this balance has to go on.

Take an example of Thakur Dhital, 16, a tenth-grader, who sells newspapers on the streets. With a three-year experience of working as a hawker, Dhital can easily identify his buyers and says he makes up to Rs 80 a day. These days, he says, he earns less because he is preparing for the SLC examination.

His day begins with attending morning classes in the Bal Byabasik High School, Shipal. After school he collects newspapers from Charumati Stationary and moves around his territory — Maharajgunj, TU Teaching Hospital and Bansbari. The money he earns not only meets his study expenditure but also helps keep his family.

Dhital says selling newspapers by exaggerating the headlines, prompting readers to buy them, excites him. Children in the business manage to handle both the work and studies.

“Most of the child hawkers opt to work in the daytime to sell evening dailies and weekly tabloids because they do not have to invest everyday,” said Niranjan Verma, 15, another hawker, who, unlike others, works in the morning and distributes broadsheet dailies. He distributes national dailies to fifty subscribers at Gaushala, Mitrachowk, Old Baneshwore, Tilganga. He starts his business from early in the morning and manages to go to school by 10 am.

For these child hawkers, political upheavals, bandhs and sensational crimes in the capital and anywhere in the country are what boom their business. Consider what Niranjan have to say, “I made profit of Rs 1,800 in a day during the Royal Massacre.” But these child hawkers are not only on the street and single. They have their own organisation. Hawker Child Club formed in 2001 by the Nepal Child Organisation supports the hawker children. Ram Prasad Dawadi, facilitator of the club says, “we teach children to keep their money safe, to stay away from drug addicts, street children and manners to deal customers. We also motivate them to involve in various extra curricular activities like painting, singing, dancing and sports.”

The HCC, which has more than a hundred members, however, has only two hawker girls. Hasina Bano, president of the club and Mamata Budhathoki an eight-year old are only two girls in the club.

Yadav Amatya, senior advisor at the International Labour Organisation, Kathmandu Office, said, “The economically active children who manage to study and work at the same time are at greater risk of dropping out of their schools due to their financial burden.”

He added, though their issues are not considered as problem, we need to focus their issues as well.