Vienna (Agenzia Fides) – “We want to provide more opportunities to children and families! This is why we support projects aimed to end child labour”. But the struggle to end child labour must go hand in hand with a change of heart, the National Director of missio Austria, Fr. Leo-M. Maasburg, told Fides on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour being celebrated today, 12 June. “Children are rays of God's sunshine, they warm the heart – Fr. Maasburg continues -. Our aim is to safeguard the freedoms of children and adolescents, guaranteeing them schooling and food, but also opening up new opportunities for life. We help them to have faith in Jesus Christ, in the loving God, who cares for them and helps them”.
The annual World Day Against Child Labour reminds us of a sad reality: hundreds of millions of children all over the world are forced to work and wherever this happens Catholic institutions work to end this form of child abuse. The Pontifical Mission Societies support many projects aimed at freeing children from this terrible new form of slavery and offering them a better future.
In Peru missio Austria supports a home for children and adolescents called CANAT (Casa del Niño y el Adolescente Trabajador de Ucayali) in the Amazon forest, where 67% of the people lives in conditions of extreme poverty and 21% of the children aged six to eight years is undernourished. To increase the family income many children are sent to perform heavy jobs, often dangerous for their health. Not rarely inside the family children are exposed to violence and sexual abuse. CANAT guarantees these children a healthy diet and follows their school development, the key to improving living conditions. The programmes often try to include the parents. Another agency involved in helping children victims of child labour in Peru is a Christian Worker organisation MANTOC (Movimiento de Adolescentes y Niños Trabajadores Hijos de Obreros Cristianos).
The Catholic Church has always worked to end child labour: in particular the Holy Childhood Pontifical Mission Society has been active in this field for more than 165 years. (MS) (Agenzia Fides 12/06/2010)