Eduardo Espinal cuts the hair of the clients at his barbershop in Comayagua, Honduras. AFP
Two of his brothers and several of his friends emigrated to the United States in search of better opportunities, but Eduardo Espinal, a 12-year-old boy, is betting on a future in Honduras, where he opened a barbershop last month to help his family.
"I like the barbershop a lot and I like studying too," Eduardo told AFP.
The boy was sitting on the patio in front of his "Eduar Barber Shop" in Comayagua, some 80 km north of Tegucigalpa.
Eduardo was born into a family of limited resources. His father, Wilfredo Espinal, 50, earns a living digging sand from a river to sell to builders, and his mother is a housewife.
He wanted to help his family, and at age 11 he began working in a barbershop that he frequented with his father, where he learned the trade.
"My dad bought me the first machine, from there I started cutting his hair," says this boy who finished elementary school in 2021 and plans to start high school next year.
Child labour is a reality in Honduras and in many other Latin American countries, although the laws prohibit it. In Honduras, only those over 14 years of age can work legally.
In 2021, some 256,000 children and young people between the ages of 5 and 18 were working in Honduras, Horacio Lovo, deputy director of the National Institute of Statistics (INE), told reporters.
Eduardo Espinal cuts the hair of a client at his barbershop in Comayagua, Honduras. AFP
And half a million of the 2.3 million Honduran children and youth between the ages of 5 and 18 do not study or work, he added.
"What is desirable is for children to be in school... The serious case is those who drop out of school because of work," Lovo said.
Eduardo worked for a year as an apprentice, until a little over a month ago he said: "Daddy, I can now cut, I want you to buy me a chair."
In addition to the hair clipper, scissors, razor and barber's overalls, Wilfredo Espinal bought his son a barber chair that cost him 22,000 lempiras (about 900 dollars), and helped him set up the humble barber shop in a small house of adobe walls lined with cement and a makeshift roof on the outskirts of the city.
Eduardo charges between two and three dollars a cut, depending on the style. His best day was when he served 16 people who left him about 45 dollars.
A good income in a country where a third of the population of almost 10 million inhabitants lives on less than a dollar a day.
Although the barbershop opens at 8:00am and closes at 8:00 pm, he also finds time to play.
On a normal day, "I get up, take a shower, change, eat and come... I play when I don't have clients, around five we go play hide and seek and with the bike" or soccer, he explains.
He said that he wants to "be a professional barber". He also dreams of helping his 8-year-old sister, Darliana, open a beauty salon, and would like to build a house for his 38-year-old mother, Merlin Carranza.
Eduardo Espinal cuts the hair of a client at his barbershop. AFP
César Zepeda, a 57-year-old welder who was satisfied with the cut Eduardo gave him, believes that the child and his parents are an example. Children must "support them in what they like best," he said.
"You don't have to go to another country to be successful," he said.
Low income, lack of job opportunities, and violence from gang members and drug traffickers in Honduras force nearly 800 nationals to emigrate every day to the United States, where more than a million Hondurans live, most without residence permits and worked.
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