14-year-old Isaac Katamba is a candidate at Good Shepherds Primary School in Bweyogerere in Wakiso district. Unlike many children who return home to relax after a long day at school, Katamba changes into his work clothes and heads to Kajajja quarry.
Katamba helps his mother Sarah Namugerwa, a widow with three children, to crash stones to raise his fees and some money to support the family.
The 14-year-old uses a huge hammer to crash stones into smaller pieces, which they sell to builders and contractors. Katamba neither wears gloves to protect his tender hands nor any protective gear to protect his other parts of the body from the flying stone particles.
According to Katamba, he has injured and bruised his hands several times. He explains to that it takes a lot of energy to do this kind of work adding that, it requires sometime to accumulate a heap of the required stones for sale.
According to Katemba he sometimes works deep in the night, because the bigger the heap of stones, the higher the pay. He says a trip of stones on an average tipper lorry costs 120,000 shillings. Katamba however, goes home with 100,000 after paying 20,000 to the quarry manager. The teenager is confident that he will be a successful person in his studies and future, because of this hard work.
Sarah Namugerwa, the mother to Katamba says that when her husband died a few years ago, she found it very difficult to look after her three children with earnings from a grocery. She says that when her elder son Isaac Katamba offered to work part time in the quarry she didn’t refuse because they badly needed the extra income.
Namugerwa explains that most of the money they generate from the quarry goes to paying school fees for Katemba and his two siblings. She explains that she is aware of the dangers of the minor working in quarry, but says they have no other option. Charles Kiwumulo, the manager Kajajja quarry says that they don’t allow children below 15-years-of age to work there, but they made an exception for Katemba when he explained his condition. He however, didn’t explain why they have not considered providing Katemba and other people in the quarry with basic protective gears such as gloves.
According to the Uganda National Household survey report 2009/2010, 2.75 million children aged between 5-17 years are engaged in child employment. Child labor refers to work that is mentally, physically or morally harmful to children. It can negatively affect their mental physical or social development and interfere with their schooling.