Young People in the Palm Oil Plantations

The challenge: working with young people and adolescents living in the palm oil plantation is that they feel as neglected as city-based streetkids. Building a rapport with them is as difficult as the government giving homes to the homeless.

The adult perception that young people should not be loitering and instead should be productive members of society is simply over abused and wrong.

Poverty and prejudice plays a large part in the ostracization of young people in the plantations. Activities prepared for them are usually irrelevant and merely superficial. NGOs and government are fond of prescribing projects that does not cater to their issues, needs and concerns.

The reality of many failed corporate social responsibility investments are evident, as many out-of-school young people continue to work to help make ends meet for their parents and themselves. Child labour is the norm in the plantations, despite the existence of the UN's the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

How has the CRC helped young people overcome their inability to afford or have access to education, child protection, empowerment and life skills?

Adults talk about poverty reduction initiatives, but sadly money allocated for youth-friendly projects never seem to reach the kids. Perhaps NGOs should go back to the basic needs of young people, which should include organisational accountability, equipping vulnerable young people with life skills and enabling the environment for their much-needed participation.

Without participation, we will be caught in the vicious cycle of repetitive failures.

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