Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Education is one of our strongest tools to end child poverty. Meet Ma Nwe, a former child labourer who is now on the road to success, receiving the education she deserves.

Below we explain Ma Nwe’s experiences as a child labourer and how education has helped her learn the skills to follow her dreams.


From child labourer to dressmaker


Ma Nwe has a big smile as she admires her new sewing machine. It’s a fine-looking Singer with a shiny gold and black body.

For the 20-year-old dressmaking student (pictured above) the machine represents a new beginning. For the first time in a long time the future looks good. Really good.

A new life, and a new home for her mum and sisters, Ma Nwe imagines. And, one day, a tailor shop for herself.

How different things are now, compared to just a few months ago when she was working seven days a week at a manufacturing factory, checking the quality of drinking flasks, day in, day out.

It had been her job for the past seven years, since she was 13 years old.


Leaving school to earn an income


At the age of nine, Ma Nwe dropped out of school to help look after her two younger sisters so her parents could go to work. When their father died she was forced to go to work to make up for the family’s loss of income.

She worked 70-hour weeks, earning an equivalent of about US$60, at the manufacturing factory, and only had one day off a month. All her earnings went to her mother to keep the family afloat.

“If I continued working there, I think nothing would have changed in my life because my earnings were just spent on food,” Ma Nwe says.

Francis Mwanu says his former sponsor’s compassion and dedicated support has inspired him to give back to the community in which he grew up.

A few times throughout the year, Francis, who lives and works in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, returns to his home region of Nakuru, about 160 kilometres northwest of Nairobi, bringing clothes and food to children in need.

“Visiting the children – even it’s just for a day – makes them feel good,” Francis says.

“Sometimes we help the communities there raise money to fix things like their water tank.”

When he was three years old Francis was sponsored by Australian Dave Meney through ChildFund’s sponsorship program in Nakuru.

Today, Francis, now 29, works remotely as a virtual assistant with Dave’s West Australian engineering services company, Yenem.

Francis’ job importing goods had come to a sudden halt in 2017 when Dave jumped in and offered him job.

“Seeing and knowing all that Dave and his family have done for me, it has inspired me to visit children’s homes in Nakuru,” Francis says.