It’s a bright school day in the village of Mfumte, in Cameroon, West Africa and Christina is staying home from school. Again. She takes care of her twin siblings while their mother goes to the farm, where she raises their family food. Christina bathes her siblings, dresses, feeds and cleans them when they make a mess, and sings them to sleep. For a 9-year old, this is a very grown up job. Christina needs your help.
Girl children in the largely rural area begin working, sometimes as early as the age of 5 or 6, usually by babysitting one or two siblings. In the villages, it is a common sight to see crowds of young girls ranging in age from 5 to 7 years, congregating in neighborhood squares, with crying children strapped to their backs while their mothers are away in the farm all day.
The babies whose care they are charged with also often suffer the sort of injuries that only experienced adults can cope with, leading to additional health challenges.
– Left unattended, these girls are easy prey for sexual predators and child traffickers
– They usually become victims of early pregnancies and have a high rate of maternal mortality
– They are more likely to be forced into early, unwanted marriages
– They are often willing victims of child labor recruiters who promise them a better life in the cities, but which usually turns out to a life of child slavery, prostitution and destitution.
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