Angel Benedicto, former child domestic worker from Tanzania is coming to the UK this month to promote the rights of children in domestic work, speaking at events and receiving an award from Her Majesty the Queen. Children Unite has been working with Angel for the past five years, helping her to develop her organisation, WoteSawa, which empowers child domestic workers to advocate for their rights.
A key event for Angel is Children Unite's roundtable discussion with NGOs and donors where she will be highlighting how WoteSawa finds and empowers children in domestic work. Click here for more details.
Angel, was born in Mara, Tanzania and brought up by her single mother. But when her mother died she ran to Mwanza city, thinking she could work as a domestic servant. After living on the streets for two days she got a job with Mama John which she enjoyed for the first month, but her tasks increased day by day despite being paid just £6 per month.
‘I did not even get time to rest and was abused, isolated and tortured by my employer.’
Child domestic workers are often beaten if they get tasks wrong, they are working behind the closed doors of private homes and rarely get time off to visit family or make friends; being on call 24 hours a day. Angel, like many child domestic workers was particularly upset by being treated like a second class citizen and was not allowed to eat with the family
‘I was asked to wait until they ate and I would get their leftovers’.
However, Angel managed to find another employer, Mr Magoiga, and all went well until his wife started a job away from home. That same evening and every night thereafter her employer sexually harassed her, saying he would make her life better if she had sex with him. Over 90% of child domestic workers are girls, their isolation in the house makes them very vulnerable to sexual abuse. When Angel showed great strength by standing up to his threats, he insulted her, kicked her out of her job (and home) and told everyone in the community not to employ her. Fortunately, Angel was already in touch with a local organisation which helped her set up her own small business, built her confidence and taught her about her rights. She became a leader in this organisation and a campaigner for child domestic workers across the globe.
‘I believe that my life will go on; it will be good. I promise that I will continue to be a child domestic worker activist’.
In 2011, Angel was elected by her peers to be an ambassador and representative of child domestic workers from Africa at the International Labour Organisation’s negotiations of a new convention on domestic work. She travelled to Geneva and lobbied for child domestic workers rights working alongside Children Unite at the UN. This was when Helen Veitch, Director of Children Unite first met Angel and discovered her amazing story. Since then, Children Unite has been supporting Angel in her endeavours.
In 2012, together with four other child domestic workers Angel founded WoteSawa (meaning ‘all are equal’ in Swahili), a child-led organisation that empowers child domestic workers and mobilises the local community to take action to prevent the exploitation and abuse of children in domestic work. WoteSawa is working with hundreds of children in the Mwanza region of Tanzania.
In 2014 Angel was nominated for the Queens Young Leaders Award for her efforts to empower child domestic workers through WoteSawa.
In 2015 Angel was in the UK for two weeks in June to receive her award from the Queen and promote her organisation and the rights of her fellow child domestic workers. Children Unite is organising her schedule while she’s in the UK.
Angel’s schedule - see Angel's photo diary of her visit
Tues 16th June: Attending American Bar Association’s International Summit on Street Youth
Wed 17th June: Speaking at evening reception of the American Bar Association’s International Summit on Street Youth
Thur 18th June: Key speaker at Children Unite roundtable ‘The search for child domestic workers: finding and empowering children in domestic work’
Sun 21st June: Opening a fundraiser event ‘Marathon Walk’ that Children Unite are participating in. Click here for more info.
Mon 22nd June: Receiving Young Leaders Award from Her Majesty the Queen in Buckingham Palace
Contact Helen Veitch if you would like to meet Angel while she is here, or if you’d like to talk about how Children Unite can work with you on other consultancy projects:
The key event for Angel is her participation in an experts meeting on child domestic work that will take place on 18th June.
Click here for our dedicated page to this event
The Queen’s Young Leader Award: this new award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Winners of this prestigious Award will receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the UK during which they will collect their Award from Her Majesty The Queen. With this support, Award winners will be expected to continue and develop the amazing work they are already doing in their communities. The Award is sponsored by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, the Royal Commonwealth Society and Comic Relief.
Interview Angel: click here for a press release on Angel’s visit.