What About Us, The Children In The Street?

December 4, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Julien Harneis photo

 

By

John Chizoba Vincent

 

 

What about those children on the street? What about those boys and girls left on the street to go rotten? How many times have you thought of them? How many times have you dreamed 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, 12 years old, who was sent to sell groundnuts 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 to date, the girl has not be found and this is over two months ago, yet she has still 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 to her the girl was selling “Okpa” and her brother was selling sachet water (Pure Water). Both of them were killed by a fast moving vehicle as they were 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 outright by other gangs, as societies treat them as a blight and virus to be eradicated rather than young souls to be nurtured and preciously protected. It is about time we end this evil. Had it been someone killed us when we were little; we wouldn’t be alive to kill one another.

 

Many of these children are homeless and hopeless to the core, for whom flimsy excuses are occasionally cited for frequent and arbitrary detention by police like homelessness, loitering, vagrancy, or petty theft, some even called vagabonds by the law enforcement agencies. Lately, the most 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 the 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 agencies. I have seen children captured during a police raid. Some of them were on their way to get something for their mother or siblings and they’ll end up in a 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 and send them back to school; that is where they belong.

 

It is necessary for governments at all levels, including non-governmental organizations, to 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 minds 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 the attention and concern to address their needs both publicly and privately. Even though they are not your children, try to help them to help society. The government has a lot to do to address the problems which are largely social, economic, and 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 role towards the success of the campaigns and protests against street-children. Parents should be educated about sending their children to the heart of the street. No parent should abandon their children to the fierce hands of street hooligans. It could also 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 these 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 society. The danger of that lack of care ensures most of them end up under bridges and take over a number of public places where they are trained to operate illegal businesses and thus constitute an environmental nuisance and danger to others in society, other children ending up seeing them as role models. If we fail to put these children in our minds and make reference to their plight, we will end up hurting ourselves.

 

 

 

 

John Chizoba Vincent

John Chizoba Vincent is a cinematographer, filmmaker, music video director, poet and a writer. A graduate of mass communication, he believes in life and the substances that life is made of. He has three books published to his credit which includes Hard Times, Good Mama, Letter from Home. For boys of tomorrow is his first offering to poetry. He lives in Lagos.

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