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What About Us; Children In The Street?


by John Chizoba Vincent 

What about those children in the street? What about those boys and girls left in the street to get rotten? How many times have you thought of them? How many times have you dream of giving them a head up or put a smile on their faces? Those children live only by the grace of God. They survive only by the grace of God. If you could take some time off from your busy schedule and go to the street, you will see how much suffering they pass through every blessed day. Some of them get raped by men and women old enough to be their father and mother. Some of them get killed by bloody ritualists, some are being killed by some miscreant hit and run drivers . Some weeks ago, one of my sisters told me a story of a girl of 12 years old who was sent to sell groundnut at Ikeja and she didn't return home. She told me the story with tears in her eyes. She said the girl's pictures have been posted all around Ikeja and other places that they could cover but till date, the girl has not be found and this is over two months, yet, she has not be found. 

Earlier this year around March, I travelled to Onitsha. In the bus we were in, a woman told a story of how they killed a small boy and her sister in Upper Iweka Road. According her, the girl was selling "Okpa" and her brother was selling satchet Water (Pure Water). Both of them were killed by a fast moving vehicle as they were about crossing the road. What about these children? What about those being harassed daily? What about those being violated in the closet of evil men? Are they not also part of us? Sympathetically, street children throughout the world are subjected to physical abuse sometimes even by the law enforcement agencies, and murdered outrightly by other gangs, as societies treat them as a blight and virus to be eradicated rather than young souls to be nurtured and protected preciously. It is about time we end this evil. Had it been someone killed us when we were little, we won't be alive to kill another. 

Many of this children are homeless and hopeless to the core and Flimsy excuses are occasionally cited for frequent and arbitrary detention by police like homelessness, loitering, vagrancy, or petty theft, and some are even called vagabonds by the law enforcement agencies. Lately, the more worrisome is the incessant attacks on innocent street-girls and boys who are sometimes killed, depressed, sexually abused and left naked in the street to empty themselves in an illusion of what the world has to offer.

Street children also make up a large number of the children who enter criminal justice systems and prisons that are euphemistically called schools, often without due process. They are being accused wrongly by the law enforcement agency. I have seen children captured during police raid. Some of them were on their way to get something for their mother or siblings and they'll end up in police station. If we don't train or take care of these children now, we'll end up having them littered all over our street one day. We'll end up having ourselves to blame, we'll end up seeing them cause chaos and disorganise the whole society. We have to fix them up and send them back to school that is where they belong to. 

It is necessary that governments at all level, including non-governmental organizations, should collectively be involved in protecting, reaching out, rehabilitating and resettling these Street Children for our own good and for the good of the generations to come. We should have these people in our mind daily because they are our future and future priorities. They are our future criminals and killers if maximum care is not taken. Their danger requires national and international attention because they are part of us and part of who we are and deserve all attention and concern to address their needs both publicly and privately. Even though they are not your children, try to help them to help the society. The government has a lot to do to address the problems which are largely social, economical, health-wise which are in the ambit of the states. 

I believe strongly in the power of advocacy which can be further strengthened joining hands with religious and cultural institutions in our communities to play an important roles towards the success of the campaigns and protest against street-children. Parents should be educated about sending their children to the heart of the street. No parents should abandon their children to the fierce hands of the street hooligans. It could as well sound paradoxical that despite the millions of naira set aside for several advocacy projects, examining the situation of the human rights abuses of street children in juvenile justice systems and as it is applicable to other African countries including Nigeria, the process has always been on the increase. Let's create a means of helping this young ones warring themselves in the street. Some of them are innocent minded while some are already corrupt by the vices in the lurking street. 

Unfortunately, a greater percentage of these people become so irredeemable to the point that they grow up in like manner without any proper guide from their parents/ guardian or the society. The danger of that lack of care make most of them to end up under the bridges and take over a number of public places where they are trained to operate illegal businesses and thus constituting environmental nuisances and environmental dangers to others in the society and other children end up seeing them as role models. If We should fail to put these children in our mind and make references to their plights to ourselves, we will end up hurting ourselves.