Day in day out.
In the sun and in the rain.
They playing Russian roulette with fast moving traffic.
You see them often, on the streets of major cities within the country pleading, cajoling and bearing down on you with their assortment of products. Some others carry bottles of soapy water and brushes offering to wash/clean your windscreen.
They are children of and on the street. They come in different sizes and ages but they are united by the street. The street is their play area, their school and often times their doom. Country hard no bi small. True, very true…we all know that. In several families, everyone is now compelled to join in the hustle aimed at putting food on the table. But then…these are still children.
They come in two groups. Children of the street and children on the street.
Children of the street are homeless children who live and sleep on the streets in urban areas. They are totally on their own, living with other street children or homeless adult street people.
Children on the street, on the other hand, earn their living or beg for money on the street then return home at night. They often still maintain contact with their families. This distinction is important since children on the street have families and homes to go to at night, whereas children of the street live on the streets and lack parental, emotional and psychological support normally found in homes.
For children of the street, life is a continuum of misery. They often have little or no education and are commonly from poor and/or large polygamous families. Common denominators are parental neglect, discontent at home, marital instability and peer group influence. Children of the street sleep under bridges, in motor parks ,abandoned vehicles, in market places and in uncompleted buildings. They survive and get along by doing menial jobs like carrying loads in the markets and parks, acting as bus conductors, scavenging at refuse dumps, begging and running errands that often times are risky and dangerous. Risk of prostitution and substance abuse is very high.
For purposes of this article , we would dwell on children on the street. Children in Nigeria have unfortunately become a part of the work force. Many families have put their children on the street to help argument the family income. The reasons are myriad but economic reasons account for most. They are sent out to hawk one thing or the other and truth be told the total cost of the wares most times are not really high. The profit margins are often times negligible and nothing to write home about. But then, the often repeated phrase is man must survive.
Survive at what cost? The well being of innocent children. Spare a thought please! These children are put in harms way. The possible harms include but not limited to road traffic accidents, sexual assaults, physical assaults and deaths…all in an attempt to raise a few naira.
Country bad no bi lie but nwaka ego. Literally translated the gift of a child is better than money. Treasure, protect that child and let the child have the best within your ability.
That child could make your tomorrow count.