Poverty, Violence Push Honduran Children to Work

Roberto, who just turned 12, spends eight hours a day at a repair shop, sanding and painting ice cream carts for the daily pay of $2.50 in Honduran lempiras. When classes resume after the Christmas holidays, he says, he will cut back to five hours at the shop so that he can go to school in the afternoon and, hopefully, still have time to play soccer on the weekend.

“My life is organized. I work in the day and study at night,” Roberto says.

Wise beyond his years, Roberto says he knows that many people consider child labor to be exploitation, but he sees it as opportunity — a means to survive the gang-controlled capital of a country with the world’s highest homicide rate.

“Here, every day that passes is another day I am alive,” Roberto says.

His view is shaped by experience, having already seen five people murdered, and is shared by friends who wish they had Roberto’s job to help support their families. The alternative, they say, is less food at home and an idleness that makes them easy prey for street gangs that control much of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.”

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