I wonder, where are their parents? Are they also pushing their wares?
Do they understand and recognise their little hands and feet should be in a classroom holding a pencil or pen whilst their feet dangle from a chair? Do they know their education, safety and well-being is guaranteed by UN and protected by Child Rights Laws in states such as Lagos, Ogun and Oyo?
Did their parents envision their children working at such tender ages to provide for the family? Roaming the dangerous streets in congested traffic to hawk water, sweets, biscuits, fruits etc. to adults who barely notice these are children risking their lives for basic survival?
What these children’s dreams are for themselves?
Is it going home each evening to give the adults charged with their care the money from their sales or do they desire to wear a school uniform and shoes like their age-mates and aspire for a productive future of health, knowledge, vitality and citizenry?
If they even recognise what they are doing is illegal and dangerous and, if they do, if they have become immune to the circumstances surrendering their work activity? I watch them scramble between cars, barely able to see the persons in the vehicle pleading for them to make a purchase, trusting they shall receive the payment, and running after cars when traffic moves to complete their sales.
As a spectator, I fear for their safety. Will they be crushed by the mindless drivers rushing to their destinations oblivious to the underage traders sharing the road from dawn till nightfall?
Where are their parents? Are they also pushing their wares? Are these children trafficked and enslaved? Have they been violated by others? Why would parents let these precious lives away from them? Are they bands of neglected street children caring for each other? Have they eaten today? Where do they live? Can they read and write?
I shake my head and wonder, what can we do for these children? What social resources are available for these children? Surely, we are all aware of their presence on the streets, so what is being done to address this life-limiting future of these children?
How many shall reach adulthood and what jobs skills will they have mastered?
There must be a solution for the plight of these children. They simply cannot be causalities of a society unperturbed by their presence or the fact the laws to protect them are not enforced. These children did not elect to be child labourers.
Circumstances beyond their control necessitate they perform adult duties for subsistence and survival. They are being exposed to a myriad of life abuses — sexual, physical, psychological and emotional, and neglect, which can only halt, or shorten, their existence and if they mature into adulthood, what are their options?
I wonder…What is their future?
© 2018 - Dr. Ama Onyerinma
Live Abundantly! Empowerment Initiative