Journalist J.D. Long-Garcia, editor of the Catholic Sun, is on a CRS-sponsored trip to Niger and Burkina Faso as an award winner in the Egan Award for Journalistic Excellence competition. He is writing a series of blog posts while on the trip.
Children turn to gold mining after drought leaves few options in Burkina Faso
SEGUENEGA, Burkina Faso — Thirteen-year-old Zale Moumouni has been living 12 kilometers down the road from his village, searching for gold. He spends his days at the bottom of a meters-deep hole, shoveling sand to be sifted.
There’s 250 miners on site — 150 of them are children. Moumouni started mining because he didn’t have enough to eat. He dropped out of school and is trying to make a living finding gold for the owners of the land — only he’s still not getting enough food. The landowners pitch it some food and tools, but that’s about it.
“We are here — we’re working, but we can’t find anything,” he said. “If we can have food and money, we’ll leave the place. If we had food and water, we’d go back to school.” He’s been there a month, he said, but he hasn’t found much.
A young mother panned for gold with her baby tied to her back. Another was pregnant. Accidents happen on the Baku site — one man had a bandaged eye, injured while digging. The miners say lack of rainfall led them to this.
“We are farmers, but the crop isn’t good,” said Sawaago Southaila, who seemed to be the closest thing the miners had to a leader. ” It’s hard work, but it’s only when you don’t find anything that it becomes truly unbearable,” he said, adding that he’s responsible for feeding 21 children.
Read the full article, including what CRS is doing about the situation.