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Building positive futures for children working in West African gold mines

Burkina Faso is a landlocked desert state in West Africa where many people rely on the land and small-scale agriculture to survive.  It is one of the world's poorest countries, ranking 161 on the Human Development Index - only 9th from the bottom. 

Child labour, although illegal, is widespread.  Thousands of children, some as young as five, work in Burkina Faso's gold mines, subjected to what is internationally recognised as one of the worst forms of child labour. 

Children as young as five are being sent to work in gold minesMine shafts can reach as deep as 40 metres and the children risk their lives in unregulated sites every day to extract gold and wash it with toxic mercury.  They have few opportunities to play and no access to basic education and health care.

I have a dream

Through a three-year project that started in January 2012, Skillshare International is working with child miners in five villages in the Dori region of Burkina Faso to help them build positive futures.  Our Coaching for Hope programme uses football to improve young people’s life skills and give them a better understanding of the key issues and risks that affect them.   

The “I have a dream” project is working to:

Improving basic education in Burkina Faso

  • Offer young people opportunities to build vocational skills, improve literacy and take part in apprenticeships, so that they can find alternatives to hazardous and exploitative minework.
  • Influence policy makers and the government to regulate mine sites more rigorously and provide improved services to the Dori region.
  • Raise awareness of children’s rights, health and safety while working in mines and living in mining regions.

Jane Carter, Director of Coaching for Hope, says:

“We believe that by bringing the community together through events such as football tournaments and leagues, we can address issues such as child labour, the rights of the child and the need for education.”

Taking part in fun football-based activities and playing in teams will boost the children’s self-esteem and self-worth so that they feel confident and in control of decisions about their lives.  Through football coaching sessions and leagues, the project will give young people a better understanding of the risks of drug and alcohol abuse and how to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS.  The wider community will also benefit by being able to access HIV testing and information at tournaments.     


Coaching for Hope in Burkina Faso


The project receives funding from Comic Relief over three years, but with your support we can do even more to help children build healthy and sustainable futures, away from the labour of the gold mines. If you would like to support this project by making a donation, please click "give" at the top of this page to be transferred to our secure online donations service. 

Find out more about our Coaching for Hope programme.