"Working with children has opened my mind."
In the province of Ganzourgou, near an artisanal gold mine, the Tdh training centre hosts a FabLab. Hamza Goumbane is responsible for the project and accompanies the children in their training.
What do you offer in the FabLab?
My job is to guide each child towards the course that best suits them, according to their expectations and desires. We offer three different courses. There is the computer course, where we teach young people how to use a computer, how to search on the internet to find a job, for example. We have a course on how to use a 3D printer and another on agricultural techniques. A fourth module will soon be available on renewable energy and recyclable materials. At the moment we are training about 200 children. It's a challenge because the children are of different ages and have very different interests.
How do you support these young people?
The most important thing is to show the children and young people that working on the gold mining sites is not the best way out. The various training courses we offer them enable them to earn money and be independent. On the mining sites, they are employed by people who only pay them 1000 CFA (about 1.70 CHF) per day or others who only pay them when they find a vein.
Is there a particular story that you remember?
Adama* has been working with his parents on the gold panning site since he was five years old. He never went to school and couldn't write his name. The first time he came to the FabLab, he refused to enter because the computers scared him. We reassured him that we would learn together. Today, he is ten years old. He is learning to read and write, and he has become familiar with computers.
You are a computer scientist. What made you decide to work with children?
Working with children has opened my mind. Before, I didn't imagine that children could be so abused and suffer so much just to get food. I was working in the city. It was when I went to the provinces that I saw other realities. When I get up in the morning, I think of those children who have been digging all night and then, instead of resting, come to the FabLab, determined to learn in the hope of getting out of their situation. It gives me a lot of energy and encourages me to help them as best I can. I learn from the children and the children learn from me.
*The name has been changed for privacy reasons.