THE CHILDREN IN THE STREET
We have treated these children wrongly many times without being aware of it. Some of us have made away with the bottle of Pepsi that we bought one hundred naira from them while in traffic without paying for it. Some of us have bought Sachet water from them without paying. Some of us deliberately poked our fingers into their eyes and made them cry knowing fully well that these children are all alone in the streets. We’ve trampled on their ego without knowing it. We have in many ways betrayed their emotions and have failed to accept the fact that we have offended these children in the street. Their lives are not worth the pains they go through everyday and the pains trailing the vest roads that spell their names backward. It might be very obvious that life itself is a calamity that befall itself. We try to make our mouth swell to the direction of the wind but ended up pushing our own into the den where going and coming becomes terrible and unbearable to their kind.
Some of us watch hell befall them yet, we try as much as possible to frustrate their efforts in Lagos traffic, we made them chase after our cars with lot of loads on their heads. Sometimes, they collect the money for things sold from the moving cars and sometimes, they don’t. Some of them get killed during this hot chase. Some get brutalized by others. Many things happen to these children in the street because of poverty. These children are in pains.They need our help, too. They need the best encouragement they can get from us. They need shoulder to lean on sometimes whenever they are in trouble. They can’t do without having you as a back up. We need our children back to school to be taught how they could better their lives. We need these children to be trained in such a way that they could be more useful to the society at large. We may not help them make choices but we can help to pattern their lives to the right directions for a better future.
Breaking and arranging back these generational plight is possible when we put our hands together to get those children off the streets and give them reasons to live their lives for the greatness of our nation. In love and aspiration, we can help them understand the meaning of life and help to educate them and not exploiting them.. We can hold up the rivers into patterns, we can faithfully return peace in the heart of those boys and girls left in the street to suffer. Don’t take a child out from the comfort of his or her parents and bring him or her to Lagos to sell Sachet water for you in the street of Lagos. Don’t convince their parents that you can take care of them and you end up bringing them to the city as sex workers.
These children have emotions too. They have feelings just like you have. They have right to be treated as humans just as your children also have. Don’t treat them less because they are not your children. I have seen children under the bridge battered. Some raped and some killed in the process of searching for reasons to live a reasonable life. I know how it hurts because I have been in the same shoe before. I have been humiliated also. I have been made to see life as being worthless. The street made me weird and wild clearing the rushes of who i was yesterday. I have made mistakes as a boy growing up where love was not found but I found the other side of me trying to hold my fragments together. Same as these boys and girls acquainted with life in a miserable way. Nothing is given freely I know but life could smile on them when a handful of mercy is parted to them through the love we show to them every day. I think we have come of age to revise these abnormalities passioned in the arms where our future is traded in the eyes of greed and selfishness. If these dreams are murdered before our very eyes, then, the future is certainly blank and without hope of these ones defining who they are when tomorrow comes. Truth be told, when we gather those firewood of greed and revisit our yesterday to pick up those fragments of those dreams wasting in the grave yard, if we hold unto those fears that betrayed our yesterday , we would faddishly name ourselves failures because we have failed to do the needful. Our future is in danger without great successors. Our tomorrow is in danger without these children
A neighbor of mine once travelled to the village. She was looking for a girl that could help her in her restaurant. So, she travelled down to her village and brought this small girl to stay with her. We would later learn that she convinced the girl’s parents with the story that she would send her to one of the best school in Lagos so that she would be useful to the family and to, herself. Her parents were reluctant at first to release her but when she pushed on; she was allowed to bring her to Lagos. When they got to Lagos, she could not put this girl in a school for over two years she stayed in Lagos rather the little girl spent all her days in the restaurant. Not only that the little girl was spending her precious time in the restaurant, she also became a modern slave to the woman. She always got beaten on slightest mistake. Life became miserable. No one cares for her because it was nobody’s business then. Sometimes, the little girl would not eat throughout the day but; she must work. Some of us was concerned about her life. The little girl got tired of this and as a smart girl she was, she saved up some cash which she used as transportation back to her village. The lady woke up one morning and could not find her again. And many other stories like this happen every day in the street of Lagos and other parts of Nigeria. Then, if the future is this blurring in the eyes of these children, what does the future holds for us? What do we stand to gain if we have nobody to hand over this power to? The children is our future, let’s take care of them.
How do we define ourselves without tracing those people we shared our love to? How do we call ourselves humans if nobody can boldly point at us as people who made them smile? Life is paradise if we could look backward and see what we have done or who we have made to smile. They are children not stones to be kicked here and there. These children have emotions just like those ones you cherish at home. They are so important to their parents just like yours are very , very precious to you, so, why kick them here and there? Why use them as sex worker at Night? Why trade their destiny because of money? If they happen to be your blood, would you have thrown them out in the cold because they pick a meat from your cooking pot? Why do you have to sleep with that little girl in the street because you just wanted to satisfy your sexual urge? I am ashamed of you and the society is also ashamed of you. You are one of the cause of our problems in Nigeria. If you can plant thorns for these little ones to walk on that mean, when you are up there as a leader, you can sell us all just as the government of the day is selling all of us. They value the cows more than us and you value your sexual urges than the feelings of these young ones. I must commend your effort Mr. man. Many things lie in the eyes of those little children you made to cry every day. They may not fight you but so9me where, somehow their god is not blind to see what you have been doing to them. And you woman who have modernized these children into modern slaves because they have no mother or father to fight for them, because they are helpless in your hand; because you don’t have your own children, god watches from behind. Karma is alive and would never die . it will surely come fully on us when the time comes.
Few years ago, I was in a bus going to the Island when I saw a boy in street, a bowl of satchet water on his head. Our Bus stopped by a filling Station to buy fuel. Later, I saw the same boy being chased by kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) men on the road. He was running with his bowl of sachet water perfectly placed on his head. The men ran after him. Suddenly, a fast moving car hit him and he fell on the ground struggling with his life. He was a little boy of twelve or fifteen. The men stood on the side of the road speechless. They turned back and started moving drastically so that they would not be lynched by the people around. Before people understand what was going on, they had zoomed off. People gathered to have a glimpse of what had happened. When his pulse was checked, he was long gone. His chapter closed in chaos and misery. That boy probably should be in school by that time of the day but who knows what made him to end up in the street. He died and his dreams gone with him. How on earth would you take granted the gift of Life? There are many people who seek for this but they could not find or buy it. And God, in his infinite mercy have handed one to you and the best you could do was to send him to the street to learn in the hard way. We may push the blame to the economy of this country, we may say it is not favorable to anyone. I know you need support to feed the family. I know it is not easy to carry the burden of the family all alone. But, it is not also easy for these children. it is not easy for them at all.
I could remember when I was hawking in Aba; I could remember the pains I passed through each day the sun made mockery of me. I could remember the abuse in the hands of men and women who could have been my motivators. I could remember how the rain drenched me and mixed together the tears and sweat that dropped from me. I remembered everything. How I was made to cater for my school fees. It wasn’t easy for mother that was why we were in the streets to help. Same thing I suffered are the same tales in every mouth of some children found in the street hustling to help the family’s welfare which is certainly not their work but the society has made it so. How it hurt me to see these children at MaryLand, Egbeda, Dopemu, Sango Toll gate and other places chasing after buses and cars in traffic, how it hurts to see these children in the streets of Lagos looking for meanings to their lives, how it hurts trying to be you when you look every street in Nigeria and you see most children who ought to be in the school being left to the merciful hands of streets and we dream of a better tomorrow in which they are the future. Try to visualize how tomorrow will be when an idiot is in power. Until we have these young ones in mind, until the thought of these children deny us sleep, until we give a helping hands to these ones who need shoulders to lean on; things may not be in its rightful place in our society because, their lives are tied to our lives.
When I knitted these feelings together in the middle of the night, I remembered that God that created us said in other for us to be pure and holy, we should be like the children. I housed my thoughts in the skeletal dreams that one day we will remember that nothing is more precious than those children we have been given by God. This is my dream that one day we shall bring them closer to our bosom and teach them the rightful way to live their lives without pains. We shall link up their feelings with ours and listen to them on whatsoever they have to tell us and which way they have to walk us to freedom. I think that day shall be a perfect match of feelings and emotions knitted into drives of understanding. Let’s have a world of smiling children in a happy mood. It begins with you and me. It begins with our understanding of who they are and how to help them achieve their dreams.