La Casa de Panchita turns child domestic workers’ lives around

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Blanca Figueroa on the daily struggles of supporting child domestic workers in Peru’s capital, Lima.

A child domestic worker washes up outdoors in Peru
A child domestic worker washes up outdoors in Peru

18 January 2016

In La Casa de Panchita, our centre in Lima, we run a wide range of activities from handicraft workshops, school and homework support, to expressive art therapy, English and computer classes.

But at the heart of our work have always been specific issues related to child domestic work: its risks, children and workers’ rights, where and how they can get extra support and advice.

Over the last ten years La Casa de Panchita has become an established institution in Lima, a safe space where children working in private homes during the day could come and talk safely about their problems, play with their peers, catch up on education and learn about their rights.

Unfortunately, last year we were informed by our landlord that we had to leave the house we had rented. This is a “bump in the road” as we say in Peru. In July we moved “La Casa De Panchita” to a new premises.

It was hard to let go of the “home away from home” we had built during the past ten years and settle in our new home. For many children moving was not easy, they were used to a different and safer neighbourhood.

The main problem is fitting into premises half the size of the previous one. We converted the garage into a cosy space for workshops for children in domestic work. The difficulty is that now only 15 children can attend at one time, but the cost of the bus that takes them to La Casa de Panchita from their local areas remains the same.

The good news is that more people have started noticing the issues around domestic work. The proof: we’ve already had a visit from the Peruvian Ombudsman in our new home to offer his support.

We are heartened seeing the progress made by the children. Children like 12-years-old Fatima, who, when she first came to La Casa de Panchita, was extremely shy, but with time we built up her confidence so that now she is not afraid to speak up for herself. Without any shyness she explained to the Ombudsman what child domestic work is like from her perspective.

We are proud to have changed the lives of many girls and boys like Fatima throughout the years. Seeing the transformation of helpless children exploited by their employers to young people standing up for themselves, going to universities and taking up new career paths, is what keeps us going.

Even though we have just moved into a new home, we are determined to keep up the hard work to change the lives of child domestic workers.

Blanca Figueroa is from our local partners Asociacion Grupo de Trabajo Redes (AGTR)

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