One of Rubé®§s jobs as a child was polishing shoes. Although he no longer works each day, he keeps his shoe-shining box as a reminder of where he has come from and where he is going.
Rubé® started his first job when he was 5. Barefoot and dirty, Rubé® would stand beside his mother, Iné³¬ at crowded bus stops, selling sandwiches and drinks. Before he was 10, Rubé® had already worked three jobs washing cars, fixing locks and polishing shoes.
Rubé® is among the estimated 800,000 child laborers in Bolivia more than 20 percent of the under-14 population. Most of these laborers, like Rubé®¬ come from single-parent homes. Rubé®§s father abandoned his mother when she was pregnant, and Rubé®§s first years were a blur of evictions as his mother struggled to pay their rent. When Rubé® began working, the few dollars he contributed each week often made the difference between a meal of rice and beans and going to bed hungry.
Iné³ was heartbroken that her son had to work that he would join the 25 percent of children in their community who would never go to school. "Watching Rubé® work as a little boy made me sad, fearing what his life would look like," says Iné³®
A Brighter Future
Rubé®§s future took a dramatic turn when he was registered at the Iglesia Nazareth Student Center (BO-561). There, the support of his sponsor meant that Rubé® would be able to go to school and his supplies and fees would be covered. While he still works odd jobs to supplement his mother's U.S.$2 a day pay, Rubé® never misses school because of work.
"With God's blessings, we don't suffer," says Iné³® "We work, the project helps us, and we are OK. Before we joined the project, we suffered very much. My children didn't have food, not even a single meal. Sometimes we didn't even have one loaf of bread to share."
"They will not suffer anymore."
Rubé®¬ now a teenager, never complains about his job repairing tires at a garage near his home. He knows that his Compassion sponsor will ensure his education and with an education he can provide for his family. He is determined that his younger brothers and sisters will have a childhood free of work. Rubé®¬ a top student in his class, dreams of completing high school and going on to university, where he plans to major in engineering. "I will buy a house for (my family). I will give them food," says Rubé®® "They will not suffer anymore. They have suffered too much already. I tell my siblings: I will work for you, I will provide for you. You will not suffer anymore."
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