Withdrawn from Tobacco Growing and Introduced to New Possibilities

The Realizing Livelihoobirijad Improvement Through Savings and Education (REALISE) Project is making a significant contribution in Hoima District in Uganda.

The project is protecting 5,940 children, ages 5 to 17, from work that is exploitative, hazardous, or considered to be the worst forms of child Labour in tobacco-growing areas.

16-year-old Birija Godfrey hails from a peasantry family in Kyabisagazi II, Kyabisagazi parish, Kigorobya Subcounty Hoima District. Birija lives with his father, three sisters, and two brothers. His mother died when he was in P.5.

Birija had a dream of becoming a mechanic one day, but his dream was cut short after he completed his P.7 year. His father told him that he had no money for Birija to continue his schooling. He advised Birija to start looking after the family tobacco garden with his siblings.

Birija was soon involved in field clearing, fertilizer application, gap filling, transplanting, weeding, spraying, watering, harvesting, and carrying leaves from the garden to the curing ban and sorting them before curing.

Then, through the REALISE Project, the Umoja Village Savings and Loans Association from the community learned about Birija and identified him as a beneficiary of artisan apprenticeship skills training. Birija was given an opportunity to take advantage of free training, which gave him options for a future that would not involve child labour in tobacco growing. Birija was able to return to his dream. Now he wants to not only become a mechanic, but also specialize in motorcycle mechanics and repairs. And, after he completes his training, Birija has high hopes of supporting his siblings so that they too do not have to be child labourers