As part of its commitment to tackle child labour in cocoa growing communities, ICI works with its partners to help older children access apprenticeship programmes. Through such programmes, older children who are at risk of, or involved in, child labour can be equipped with skills that will help them to be economically active and independent in the future, help support their families and reduce the prevalence of child labour.
Charlotte Asiamah from Ewiase, a cocoa-growing community in the Obuasi Municipality in Ghana is one of the children supported by ICI in partnership with Nestlé and Beyond Beans in 2020 to partake in an apprenticeship. Charlotte chose the craft of hairdressing for her training.
ICI reconnected with Charlotte to follow up on her traineeship and to find out about her goals after graduation.
“I used to engage in work with my parents on the farm after Junior High School because my parents could not afford to enroll me in an apprenticeship or continue my education. I used to harvest and break cocoa pods with cutlasses and other sharp objects, apply agro-chemicals on the farm, and sometimes burn bushes. It was very exhausting for me, but I was doing it with the hope that one day, my father will get money to enroll me in an apprenticeship,” Charlotte recalled.
Today, the situation has changed. ICI, through the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS), identified Charlotte as being involved in hazardous activities, and as part of remediation interventions, Charlotte was enrolled in hairdressing training. “I had always wanted to learn a trade, but my parents could not afford it. Now, I am very excited I have been able to learn what has always been my dream,” she added.
According to Charlotte, there have been challenges, but she has been able to work through them, and after learning the trade now for almost 3 years, she is about to graduate. She shares with us her thoughts of her graduation, “Now I feel excited about my upcoming exams, the fact that I will also graduate and be a professional. If not for ICI, I would not have gained this skill now, I would have still been engaging in the hazardous activities on the cocoa farm as I used to. I am grateful for every support given to me by ICI. Taking this apprenticeship has given me a skill of which I had always dreamt. I can now do braids, do retouch, fix weave-on, manicure and pedicure and make-up,” Charlotte happily explained. “Now I can stand in for my Craftmaster when she is not around. I even go out and undertake home services on her behalf. I am the senior apprentice, and my Craftmaster even asks me to advise the junior apprentices sometimes,” she added.
Charlotte’s Craftmaster, Rashida Adams, attested that Charlotte has been one of the most hardworking trainees she has had so far. According to her, Charlotte has always remained committed and ambitious, which is why she has been able to get to this stage. “I am hopeful and very positive about her graduation because even in her first weeks with me, she demonstrated hardworking characteristics such as smartness, punctuality, and leadership qualities. Now, she can complete all tasks required of her.” Rashida asserts. Rashida is confident Charlotte will perform very well in her final exams and will succeed in the future.
Charlotte is looking forward to graduating early next year with many dreams and ambitions. “My mother’s advice and encouragement has helped me in my apprenticeship journey. I have also been supported by my Craftmaster, she has been very helpful, I have a very cordial relationship with her. My parents are very glad to see me about to graduate because in our community, not everyone is able to successfully complete apprenticeship programs,” Charlotte explained.
Charlotte is now a prospering young girl who is very optimistic about her future. “In the next five years, I see myself opening my salon and working to support myself and also to take care of my younger siblings for them to also stand on their feet,” she said.