“I have been making salsa since I was 6 years old, when my task for dinnertime was to peel roasted chilies,” Carmen Pacheco-Borden of Boulder, Colo said. Pacheco-Borden’s family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 12 years old, and she went on to obtain her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering. After teaching university classes and having three children, Pacheco-Borden decided it was time for a new path in life.
“I am not playing with her - she is too small, she can’t run, and doesn’t talk to me!” one EducaFuturo participant shouted. “He only talks to his friends and just because I look different he doesn’t talk to me,” responded another.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, an estimated 13 million children are involved in child labor. Many of them come from poor, low-educated families, aren’t enrolled in school and endure dangerous working conditions. Often, they work for their families, whose economic survival depends on the additional income their children bring in.
Child labor in Ecuador and Panama is prominent in the most vulnerable and socially excluded sectors: indigenous and Afro-descendant populations. These two populations account for a high incidence of poverty, social exclusion, employment and lack of education, which also explains why they are most at risk of child labor. The numbers are stark.