Human Services Ministry launches extensive campaign targeting child beggars

− says child labour calls for more than formulation of policies, legislation, and programmes

Human Services Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud with Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton (second, left), Permanent Secretary Bishram Kuppen (first, left), and Deputy Director of UNICEF Guyana and Suriname Irfan Akhtar at the head table

The Human Services and Social Security Ministry has embarked on an extensive campaign to target children begging at street corners and traffic light junctions across Georgetown.
This was revealed on Friday by Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud, who disclosed that this is part of the Ministry’s efforts to eradicate child labour and remove children from situations that can harm and exploit them.
Minister Persaud was at the time delivering remarks at the Labour Ministry’s launch of World Day Against Child Labour.
The event was also attended by Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton, Deputy Director of UNICEF Guyana and Suriname Irfan Akhtar, Permanent Secretary Bishram Kuppen, Director of the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) Ann Greene, representatives of International Labour Organisation (ILO), religious and union leaders, and other stakeholders.
During her remarks, Minister Persaud called attention to the simple, powerful, and motivating theme for this year’s observance, being: “Act Now: End Child Labour!” While child labour is visible in Guyana, Minister Persaud noted that it could be the attitude of disinterest, dismissal, and acceptance that allows the scourge to be something that has become so entrenched.
To end child labour, then, she said it calls for more than the formulation of policies, legislation, and programmes.
“It is the collectivity of action. That means when we see it, we need to report it… and ensure that we keep following up again and again until we do not see that child as part of the labour force,” she urged, even as she called attention to how challenged some parents are when it comes to accessing jobs and providing for their children.
She urged those listening to act tangibly so that they can look back and see that they have made an impact, even in the life of one child. While not dismissing the importance of getting children involved in home chores and giving them responsibility, Minister Persaud noted the need for the line to be drawn on exploiting them and putting them in the labour force when money and power are involved.
“That is when it becomes wrong. It is a crime, it leads to poverty, and it leads to deprivation of education, social exclusion, psychological trauma, and harm and it can lead to the worst forms of abuse of children,” she pointed out.
She thanked all of the Ministry partners, notably UNICEF and other Government Ministries for their support in addressing issues that affect children, and called on parents who cannot adequately provide for their children to reach out to the CPA.
“We are moving on an extensive campaign to target what is happening on the streets. Many children can be seen asking for money. What we want you to do is to report it. We will get them off the streets and we will work with their families to keep them at home. Sometimes because we are filled with compassion, we want to help that child immediately. You can help them by reporting it and moving him out of that situation and risk of abuse. That’s how you help,” she stressed.