Understanding street children in Africa

Understanding street children in Africa

Street children exhibit resilience at its best.

They live on the edge of life and face a world of extreme uncertainties and chances of survival, a kind of life that is alien to society at large.

The best thing society does is push them beyond the limits of life, making it extremely difficult to survive the already harsh conditions in the open world, without shelter, warm clothing, guarantees of a meal, protection, and recognition.

However, given the opportunity to benefit from community development programs, like any other citizen, they thrive.

Unfortunately, it is never the case. It is the well-to-do who continue to benefit from such programs, while the poor turn a blind eye and focus on the poor as street children.

It is important to know that these children have enormous potential to become resourceful to their abusive families, their communities, and their neglectful country and world, either on their own or with the support of hostile authorities.

Street children are the most resilient human beings to be found, easily adapting to job opportunities that require resilient people if there is such a need.

But this does not mean that only “dangerous” places are better for them as a source of livelihood. They are also human, who deserve the best for their lives and, in fact, they know it and seek that life. It is unfortunate that they have to go through difficult and risky routines to find a coin or a few coins. With their earnings, they can buy food, drinking water, and clothing for leisure activities.

Essentially, they rely on begging, collecting waste materials, washing cars, collecting water for small business owners, cleaning utensils in exchange for food, and in extreme cases forming gangs for individual safety. against the hostile neighborhood and turn to stealing for a living.

If compassion were the rule in the relationship with street children, extreme forms of behavior could not arise between street children and the authorities.

Living standards are set by the families they come from, the communities and the city authorities that are obligated to protect them.

Violence against children and later against street children has three levels. This is enough to push any human being onto the paths of the jungle. They face discrimination and exclusion from the neighborhood and city authorities, they are not part of the urban development agenda and they are antisocial, whose best place is the detention center or prison.

As they face a world of extreme uncertainties and chances of living and surviving, at best, society pushes them further to the end of the limits that life can tolerate. This makes it extremely difficult for them to survive the already harsh conditions of the open world, without shelter, warm clothing, guarantees of a meal, protection, and recognition.

But, sooner rather than later, and through the initiation of the group, the difficult circumstances normalize, and it is (the normality) that gives them the strength to carry on day by day, to surprise or scare people out of their control. group structures.

Eventually, they survive very well and dominate the slum business. With more support, as they very much want the opportunity, they succeed in their small business and join the core of the informal sector.

At this point, the street children we once knew as such are different human beings. Some participants in a 2019 IMI study in the Kampala city center showed that some of the street children dressed so smartly that life on the streets was now a thing of the past.

However, they remained just as popular with “distressed” street children. Despite making such strides, they showed the need to go back to school and increase prospects for better job remittances; and, like most unemployed youth, they sought higher-paying job opportunities within their skills and skill sets.

As such, their socio-economic statuses can be enhanced so that they join mainstream communities as “legitimate” citizens and city dwellers.

In addition, street children could become national and international icons, if they are given a hand in doing so. That way, they can even go on to join the leadership of the country.

For now, they wrestle with all kinds of odds and uncertainties they face on the streets, including what the so-called legitimate actions of city dwellers and authorities throw at them.

A fact-finding mission on the “Impact of street children on the development of cities” showed that they had enormous potential to become resourceful citizens if given the opportunity to celebrate life’s successes. There was also evidence that they made their way through the informal sector, renowned for faster investment returns and get-rich-quick setup.

As a basic right and source of livelihood, they demanded to live in cities like any other citizen, to benefit from the economic boom that characterizes urban areas. They longed to be treated as human beings with rights to be protected by law.

In particular, discrimination and hostility from neighborhoods and city authorities were the main obstacles in their fight for a dignified life.

Street children were often treated as outlaws, with no opportunity to gain development skills and exposure to promote their talents, mainly in music and football.

The needs were of an educational, economic, and health nature, which included; Talent promotion, active participation in and benefit from community development programs such as business start-up scholarships, talent promotion shows, vocational apprenticeships, language skills development, business skills, life skills, sex and reproductive health literacy , or access said services.

And while these development programs were taking effect, the financial appreciation of part-time and casual jobs boosted their self-esteem, so they preferred that education and casual work be given that support at the same time.

At the institutional level, there was a need for field report sharing, research collaboration, joint interventions and equipment availability to support Africa-focused recreation and rehabilitation, through established development agencies, to change the demonized face of children from the streets and ensure a dignified future for them.

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