Gender Gender

Plight of children who guide blind parents

A YOUNG boy sits besides his guardian asking for alms along the street in Kitwe

Children's Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
EVERY day the safety and well-being of most children is threatened through neglect or abuse. These include children who are used to guide visually-impaired people to beg for money on the streets. In the past, most of them were concentrated in the central business district (CBD), but now it seems they are found almost on all major roads come rain, come sunshine.

There is a danger that they can be hit by a vehicle, especially that some of the children are pretty young while others are at risk of getting very sick because they are never appropriately dressed for the weather. It is heart-rending to see some of them shivering as a result of being exposed to severe cold the country has been experiencing. Such unfortunate scenarios will only complicate an already dire situation; their families cannot afford to feed them. How will they manage to pay for medical services.

These poor children are also denied the chance to be in school. The time spent traversing the streets robs them of the opportunity of acquiring education that will benefit them and their families in the future. In the end these children can never break the cycle of poverty.
According to Media Network on Child Rights and Development (MNCRD) executive director, Henry Kabwe, using children as guides is a form of abuse and an infringement on their rights.
At that age, children are supposed to be in school but it is not the case. And it is normally very difficult to get law enforcers to follow up on such cases especially that society has accepted it as the norm. But there is need for the police to be proactive to effect laws that compel children to be in class.
The responsibility of intervening effectively in the lives of these children is not the responsibility of any one group, but for all members of society. However, it is important for Government to adequately implement more policies for people with disabilities as a way of keeping such children away from the streets and the classroom where they should be.
This is because most people living with disabilities, including the visually impaired, have no economic means for survival and hence end up on the streets. It is important to remove all barriers that hinder people living with disabilities from managing their lives; otherwise children of such parents will always be compelled to take care of their families at the expense of their education and, ultimately, their future. In the process, such children lose out on their childhood because of the responsibility bestowed on them; that of taking care of their parents as they attempt to survive on the streets.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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