ILO trainings help keep Amany’s family entirely free of child labour

Close to the market at Al-Faiyum in Egypt, Amany and her husband Abo Ahmed are busy making their own mark in the local textile industry and giving their children a bright future through their new business, which they built thanks to ILO ACCEL Africa’s partnership with the GET Ahead programme. Their children Ahmed and Jana, who also attended the SCREAM training programme, are now also empowered to know and protect their rights.

Article | 05 October 2023

Amany and her family live close to Al-Faiyum, a city in the middle of Egypt. Her husband Abo Ahmed used to work as an employee, and then later on a driver. Meanwhile, Amany did not work. As a family, their income was not enough to support their three children and provide decent living conditions for their household.

Parents Amany and Abo Ahmed find an additional source of income

One day, Amany heard that the Cotton Research Institute and the National Council for Women were organising a course on how to start small projects, and she invited her husband to come along with her. The course was offered by ACCEL Africa in partnership with ILO’s GET Ahead programme, a gender-sensitive entrepreneurship training programme designed for adults with basic numeracy or literacy skills. She explained, “They talked about business ideas… how to start a business and how to sustain [it], manage it correctly, and plan it well to avoid mistakes and losses… We understood and thought that we would give it a shot and see how things would go down.”

Thanks to the GET Ahead programme, Amany Abo Ahmed’s business was born. They started very small, getting ready-made bedsheets and selling them to neighbors. Eventually, after plenty of consideration, they decided to move from reselling fabrics to making their own, allowing their customers to choose their own designs. The family invested in a sewing machine, and Abo Ahmed learned how to sew on his own. Amany shared, “It was hard at the beginning, because it was Abo Ahmed’s first time using a sewing machine. He had no idea how it’s done, but he went online, searched a lot, asked around, and worked a lot on himself. He exerted a lot of effort until he managed to make good products. Time after time, he gathered more ideas and made better and more beautiful things.”

I have three children and I thank God none of them is engaged in child labour. All I wish is that they receive a high quality education and have a bright future.”."

Abo Ahmed
Soon enough, people got to know about their business and started requesting more products. When asked whether the ILO training and the business have helped their income as a family, Amany shared, “The income after the business is way better for sure – that is certain. We now have capital, something to depend on, or to save up for our daughter and son, or to invest in something.”

During the GET Ahead programme, Amany and Abo Ahmed also got to learn about the risks of child labour. The training covered the age range where children are allowed to work, and the circumstances where they are even allowed to work in the first place. “After that seminar, some people’s opinions changed. Kids cannot work before turning 18, because as long as they are under 18, they are children and should be treated that way. These hard jobs [in the cotton field] are not fit for children,” Amany explained. “It’s hard for me to make my son work. I have a goal ahead that the most important thing is education. I only want my son to be educated, be excellent in his studies, and have good manners.”

Children Ahmed and Jana empowered to know their own rights

While Amany and Abo Ahmed attended the GET Ahead programme, their children Ahmed and Jana also attended the SCREAM training programme, which aims to promote awareness among young people about their rights, with a focus on child labour, so they can speak out and mobilise their communities to act. The SCREAM training programme is suitable for children and adapted to the specific circumstances of their communities, making the modules extremely engaging.

Ahmed and Jana were encouraged by their parents to attend the SCREAM training programme, which they enjoyed and learned a lot from. They learned about their right to freedom of speech, and to their right to have their basic needs met, such as having a home, clothing, drinking, food, good health, and of course, an education. They learned these concepts with the help of engaging activities, such as drawing, painting and playing together.

Importantly, the children also learned about the dangers of child labour, raising awarness among them and making it less likely that they engage in this practice. Ahmed, who is in Grade 8, shared, “We learned that child labour has many negative effects, like being a carpenter can fall from heights… [There are also] jobs that require underwater diving, or being in the air, or underground.”

Jana, who is in Grade 6, shared her hopes and strengthened passion for going to school after attending the SCREAM training programme:
“I like going to school. We learned that education is a must and that we should learn. Education is crucial in our lives. When I grow up, I want to be a doctor or an engineer.” Jana