AGADEZ, Niger, 4 January 2010 - Three years ago, Soueba was a young girl collecting animal parts from the slaughterhouse to sell at the local market. Today, she and her friends are earning a better living making and selling batik pieces.
Soueba is one of 80 girls who were trained by Action Against the Use of Child Workers (AFETEN), a UNICEF partner organization that has helped 120 children - who previously worked at the slaughterhouse - learn new skills to better themselves and to help sustain their families.
"My mother had no job at that time," recalls Soueba of the months she spent cleaning, cooking and selling goat heads and feet. "I was the only one making money. Today, she's been able to start a small business thanks to me."
Street trade is no place for children
Niger is one of the world's poorest countries, with most families struggling to meet their basic needs.
Children and young people under the age of 15 account for about half of the country's population. Child labour is a major concern across Niger, with 43 per cent of children aged between five and fourteen involved in some form of work.
Young women here are often expected to start work at a young age to earn enough income to sustain their families and to contribute to their dowry.
Trading on the streets, girls are exposed to harassment and sexual abuse. They frequently have little knowledge of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases and few means to protect themselves. In order to gather the money they need each day, many turn to prostitution.
Soueba's Success Story
Today, Soueba's is a success story. At AFETAN, she was trained to make batik and, after just six months, has found enough clients to earn several times the average national income each year.
"I am so proud I have my own trade," she says. "I am confident that my family and I will have better future."