This story was published in a local newspaper in Colombia
This is the case of Carlos, a 17 year old boy from the Comuneros district in Cali who three years ago completed his studies at his local school: El Colegio Gabriel García Márquez. Not wanting to continue studying he decided instead to look for a job.
Two years ago he started working in the Avenue Pasoancho washing car windscreens; every day he arrived at 8.00 AM to start work and finished usually at about 7.00 PM. He ended up in this work because; due to his young age and lack of experience no company would employ him. He assures us that through his work he earns enough to cover his transport costs and pay for his food. “The first thing I do is save enough money for my bus pass; in one day I can take between 15,000 to 25,000 pesos (£5 to £8), depending on how the day goes” he explains.
“Throughout my work I have to deal with intolerance and insults from drivers and even those who let me clean their windscreen and then don’t pay me, not even a coin!”.
Carlos, instead of getting involved with drugs and crime, has preferred to sustain himself in this way despite peer pressure to steal and mug. “I prefer to come here to work because I know that here nothing bad will happen, I am working, I am safe, why would I go out and steal from others?”.
Despite that he says he would prefer to work for a company in whatever job so that he doesn’t have to continue working on the streets. Carlos hasn’t yet been tempted by delinquency despite the lack of proper work opportunities.
However many young people, especially those who can’t find even informal work are susceptible to risks such as crime and violence as a last resort for survival for them and their families.
Unfortunately Carlos’s case is a very typical one, there are literally hundreds of thousands like him throughout Latin America; children’s whose abilities go unrecognised and potential undeveloped due to poverty, poor education and a lack of opportunities. With your support we can help address the social inequality that creates such cases and start chipping away this grave tragedy and injustice.