Ridoy’s work begins at the dawn

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DHAKA, Aug 5, 2018 (BSS) – Just when the twilight begins at the dawn, he
has to jump off the bed and rush for work.

A child of around 10 year of an affluent family normally gets off the bed,
brush teeth, take breakfast and gets ready for school.

But his story is different. Not so smooth and comfortable life, rather
harder than others. The ten-year-old Ridoy Ahmed does not get the opportunity
to brush teeth, take breakfast or wearing school uniform.

Just after hearing the Fazar Prayer call in loud speaker from the nearby
mosque, his mother awakes him from sleep and drives him out of the room. On
barefoot he starts running fast to the nearby fish market where Ridoy works
as an assistant of day-labourer.

The wholesale fish market is located at Launchghat area under Mirkadim
municipality area of Munshiganj. As the market starts from early in the
morning, Ridoy has no time to waste. “If I’m late for few minutes, they
(owners of a fish trading shop) don’t take me in work,” said Ridoy at a
morning of mid June.

Usually, he carries icebergs, which are used for preserving fishes, water,
wash fishes and help senior day-labourers to cut fishes in pieces.

“My earning depends on how much work I can do. Usually, I earn Taka 80 to
100 daily,” Ridoy was talking to this correspondent in different gaps between
his works.

This correspondent was observing how hardship Ridoy faces during his works.
Sometimes, he was seen carrying large piece of ice on his head; sometimes he
was carrying large buckets in two hands to wash fishes; sometimes he was
carrying sharp knife to cut fishes.

He was seen kept running from one corner to another of the market. With the
time grew, the small body of Ridoy became tired and exhausted. His movement
was seen slowing down, he was getting thirsty and hungry.

But the fish trader, who employs Ridoy, was not happy with the performance
of such huge tasks. Rather the trader was seen asking Ridoy to move fast and
work quickly.

At around 9 am, the trading was about to end and crowd was becoming lesser.
Now Ridoy has few moments to rest. When he sat on a bench in the fish market,
the correspondent walked towards him and started talking.

“Today, I have earned Tk 100. It’s not fixed for everyday. If I do less
work, they (trader) pay me less,” he said. “I will take breakfast now by some
of the money from here and I will give rest of the earning to my mother,” he
added.

Ridoy’s father collects wastes from dustbins and mother is a street beggar.
He has one sister, who is married off, and another younger brother. “We live
in a nearby slum,” said Ridoy, who didn’t enroll to any school.

He never went to school, can’t read or write, and even doesn’t know
alphabets and words. “Nobody has ever taught me these. So, how can I learn
these alphabets and words,” explained Ridoy, adding, “I dream to go to
school, to study school, college and more.”

“But there is no source from where I can get money to study. If I don’t
work, what will I eat,” a tearful Ridoy pondered. Talking about child labour,
a trader at the market said they don’t want to employ children in work.

But children themselves and their parents insist traders to employ them,
even in low wage. He claimed that traders employ children in work on
humanitarian ground.

Shahidul Islam Shaheen, mayor of Mirkadim municipality, almost echoed the
same words. But he said the municipal authority is taking initiative for
education of street and working children.

Social norms and economic realities mean that child labour is widely
accepted and very common in Bangladesh. Many families rely on the income
generated by their children for survival, so child labour is often highly
valued.

Additionally, employers often prefer to employ children because they are
cheaper and considered to be more compliant and obedient than adults. At the
time, there were 3.2 million child labourers in Bangladesh, according to
Unicef.

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