Commentary

Child Vendors in Cuzco

Child vendors I

Need stalks poor families in Cuzco every day.   As a result, its children often work in the street.  These working children earn money to help their families but these kids often miss out on the education they need and that should be their right.

Cuzco is a tourist city where day to day thousands of visitors have the desire to know on of the wonders of the world.  As a result, Cuzco is a principal destiny for visitors.   As a result, tourism generates employment for thousands of people in restaurants, hotels, and businesses.  But the poorest families generally do not find employment there.   As a result, the neediest families, those who do not have a stable job with a business or institution, find hope in going out into the street and selling handicrafts, paintings, and others things of interest to tourists.

This situation has developed over decades.  It has generated a medium of ambulatory commerce in which each salesperson is their own boss.  But just like everything else, this medium has also been evolving.   Women would go out into the street to sell with their small children in hand, though they did not try to use them to improve sales.   But they also had no where to leave them.

Child vendors II
Child vendors II

But since tourism delcines in the low season, the women realized that with all the competition that a means of easy commerce was to rely on their children to go out and sell as well as get gifts from tourists.    We human beings tend to be solidary with other people, but even more so if we are dealing with children.  That is why today you can see so many children walking through the streets and selling things.  Even at a young age they are earning their daily bread.

Sometimes these children are exploited by their own parents.  They send them out to sell from a very young age without taking into account the dangers the children face in the streets and without letting them have the education that is ultimately very important for the children’s future.

Child Vendors III
Child Vendors III

All over the city of Cuzco there are many street children selling.  Some sell post cards in the Plaza and are only six, seven, or ten years old.   Others shine shoes.  And some sell finger puppets or knit caps and beanies.  Since they are so small and young, they grab the attention of the tourists and captivate them with their gentleness that is typical of children in order to sell their products to the tourists.

Outside the colonial core there are even more children working as vendors.   There are children who sell candies in the streets.  The majority fo these children are from rural areas.  Some of them come to the city obliged by their parents and others because of the great need for money that their families face.   They approach people to sell their sweets at every red light, while the cars and buses are stopped.  Some will do acrobatics or cartwheels in the middle of the street as a show after which they will go car to car to ask for some coins.  Other children will take advantage of the time it takes for the light to change to clean windshields and earn tips.

Other children work selling candy  or medicinal herbs in restaurants, at the same time others find other options for making money. They will sing in the restaurants some Andean songs, such as traditional huaynos in Quechua.  Others will both sell candy and sing in the buses which transport locals.   After singing they will go sest to seat to sell their candies and to get a tip.

People tend to always help these children, but the hel is never  sufficient since these children should not be selling in the streets where they face a lot of dangers while performing their hard work.

Without any doubt  poverty is a real problem in Cuzco.  Many children need help from the authorities or from the state.

When parents send the children out into the street to work and then sit around drinking on the money they earn people get really indignent.

Daily many children go out into the streets to work without really being aware of what they are doing and its implications for their future.  During this important week, let us  take it as a time of reflection for all of us of how we might help these children.  Let this also be a call to the authorities so that they might address the situation.  Let us all come together and help these children who are the adults of tomorrow and need to get an education.

 

 

 

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