NOAH HASSAN ABBAKER
GOING by the adage â€œonly those who have lost their beloved onesÂ shed more tears in funerals than othersâ€, each one of us should ask himself/herself: how would I feel if my own kids live on the street for reasons beyond my control. This is how one comes to understand the circumstances under which innocent street kids live in. They have found themselves facing hardships against their wishes. Some of them have lost both parents, others neglected and thrown by their own cruel mothers at a dumping site or along main roads for the sake of escaping social criticism. Under all these circumstances, street kids remain innocent and no one should blame/abuse them. It is true thatÂ due to the environment, coupled with illiteracyÂ and unmerciful people, they find themselves engaged in criminal activities such as petty theft, smoking contraband and in some casesÂ used as child-sex workers.
The questions which can be raised are: shall the society fabrics, such as local and foreigners, religious organisations and NGOs, keep quiet and pay a deaf ear to the matter? Are street kids, at a childhood age, guilty to be condemned by society? These questions need to be answered by any one of us so that we may come up with some solutions to their plight. I have learnt a lot about orphanages being run by some Christian and Muslim organizations across the country. The street kids and orphans there receive regular education and some of them have graduated and happily integrated in the society. I have also come to know, recently, that Vice-President Inonge Wina pays a lot of attention to the heartburn issue of street kids despite her busy schedule as a co-pilot of the entire Zambian nation.
Her attention towards street kids should motivate us all to contribute, no matter how little, towards the welfare of the street kids. This can only be done through total commitment to the issue. There are many UN offices, in Zambia, such as Unicef, WHO, ILO and others which may come up with a road map so that 10 shelters and schools can be constructed across the country. There are many mining companies, business houses, embassies and high commissions which may extend hands in this regard once approached by the authority.
Social responsibility has become a must in todayâ€™s world. It is suggested that the street kids indaba be held, like the people living in the diaspora conference held in Lusaka recently, soon so that stakeholders may come up with proposals for a lasting solution to the problem. It is recommended that Government, in collaboration with NGOs and business houses, appoint a board of trustees to establish a national fund that deals with the problem of street kids and orphans. It is also recommended that the vice-presidentâ€™s efforts be supported and complemented by all philanthropists across the nation.
Government may learn from Sudan, where orphans are looked after very well and in a dignified manner, in terms of spiritual and material support, health care and education as well as empowerment. I am sure that if only one hundred business houses put their efforts together, no street kids will be vulnerable any more. Hats off to the vice-president for the hearty concern about street kids. Let us support her with as little as K1 which makes a street kid happy and his/her tear of pain turns into one of joy. Remember, this is the type of work which pleases God and brings about blessing.
NOAH HASSAN ABBAKER