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Asociación Mujer Familia (AMF) in Peru
June 2005. CIRCLE partner Asociación Mujer Familia (AMF) continues to combat child labor in Cajamarca, Peru. One of their innovative and successful approaches involves building the self-esteem of youth to help them make better choices about their lives.

Empowerment drawing, by AMF/CIRCLE youth beneficiary
The word "empowerment" is used to describe many different types of social iniatives, improvements to the quality-of-life of diverse individuals. AMF's CIRCLE project includes empowerment as a central strategy: it is both their dream and their concrete goal to empower children and communities to end child labor. For AMF and its stakeholders in Cajamarca, empowerment involves several elements: autonomy, initiative and creativity, confidence, and the belief that it is possible to change one's own reality.

Through the CIRCLE project, 20 boys and girls are trying out these many types of "yes" through empowerment trainings specifically aimed at child laborers. The group is composed of worker adolescents 12-18 years old. Called the Grupo Impulsor de Trabalhadores Infantis Domesticos (Action Group for Child Domestic Workers), its members are developing leadership, participation, and teamwork skills. As they build their own self-esteem, they are becoming examples for other adolescents.

This special youth group has its own board of directors composed only of young people, and its activities are planned by the members. According to 15-year-old board member Amélida Terrones Teran, the group "was created to defend the rights of working boys and girls." She is confident and believes that the group will meet its objectives, in spite of the difficulties they face in making time for both work and study. She was very animated as she described the Action Group's participation in the National Consultation for Eradication of Child Labor. Thanks to the organizational assistance and training provided by AMF/CIRCLE, these girls and boys have had the opportunity to show policy makers the damaging effects of domestic work on children under 14-years-old. They feel they have really been heard by Peruvian authorities.

A key "spotlight" initiative realized by the Grupo Impulsor was the Summit of Worker Boys and Girls,which they organized and participated in with young people and educators from other organizations such as IINCAP Jorge Basadre, Brus Peru, Chibolitos, and Hogar de Cristo. The event allowed the CIRCLE-assisted youth to exchange experiences with others and to understand more deeply the problem of child labor, as well as to make new ties of friendship. They used the methodology AMATE ("love you") that includes segments on Animation, Motivation, Ownership, Transference, and Evaluation.

During the summit, the youth built up discussions around the following critical understanding of domestic child labor:
  1. It results from the economic needs they face,and from lack of parental responsibility; and
  2. Children should not have to do this work, particularly when it interferes with the education that is fundamental to their development.
Based on this understanding, they raised the following possible solutions: promote jobs for parents; make speeches about the rights of working boys and girls; empower youth to avoid abuse, stimulate parents to be more responsible; avoid teenage pregnancy; form volunteer groups; coordinate with local authorities.

The group developed a workplan for the next several months. The plan includes organizing a second Summit of Worker Boys and Girls with the theme "How to Improve my Education." This meeting will include theater workshops, creation of a TV program, and strategic planning on ways to seek fellowships for boys and girls who have concluded secondary school, so that they can go on to university.

These youth – and the many others they influence – are being empowered to take some control over their own lives, armed with the will and confidence to succeed. They are experiencing ownership of their proposed iniatives, and the excitement of mobilizing resources for implementing them. Perhaps most importantly for far-reaching reduction of child labor in Peru, these boys and girls are reaching out to other young people. Using the AMATE methodology through CIRCLE, they are applying it to love for themselves, for others, and for a fair world – love that can form the basis for true and lasting empowerment, and an end to child labor.