What pushes children into urban streets?
By Peter Mwangu
Rajabu Wajabu born in Tabora region 27 years ago now calls himself a \"street dweller\" after several years of living as a street child. “I have already lived in the streets for about 14 years consecutively in Mwanza, Tabora, Kigoma and Dodoma regions.“ he said.
“The life of hardship in my family is what forced me out into the streets with no one to guide me through in my daily undertakings. He said his father travelled to unknown destination abandoning them with his mother.
“Despite being a child, I had to tirelessly do casual jobs to make the ends meet, balancing both school life as a pupil and as a sole provider of our family needs before I decided to accept the defeat (drop school life). After deciding to drop out of school while in standard three, I opted to sell groundnuts, boiled eggs, handkerchiefs, washing peoples\’ cars and other petty activities so as to support my needy family.
I resorted to being a street child,“ said the hapless Wajabu. At the moment, Rajabu is self employed as a shoe shiner where he can earn his daily bread but life isn\’t that easy since he is constantly confronted by the tough street conditions including missing a permanent work station.
“You can\’t believe that I don\’t have a place to sleep. When night falls, I simply walk around the city center streets till late night before looking for a convenient pavement for a short sleep,\" he added.
He however said that smoking marijuana is part and parcel of a street life and the street children believe that through the habit they are able to beat stress.
“The society has to know for sure that no one would wish to run away from his parents or guardians and start a new life on his own in a place full of confrontation, hardships and sufferings“ he claimed. He said that many of the street children decide to be what they are due to difficulties faced back at their villages.
“Listen! The difficulties we face in the street are the results of negligence of Government officials and our parents, calling policy makers to ensure street children are assisted. �� the government has lots of programmes that if well used can help reduce poverty but nothing is being done in reality.
“If parents at the villages are not able to provide basic needs to their children, how do you expect these children to remain idle and keep on enveloped under the out dated doctrines and customs.
Here I am working as a shoe shiner earning not more than 1,500/- a day, how do you expect me to budget with this small amount of money to meet all my basic needs like food, housing clothes and medication,“ “See that kid!… pointing at a young boy holding a tray of boiled eggs for sell��“the eggs he is selling belong to someone else, but because of his age, no one will disturb him. If the same work could have been done by an adult, he /she could have ended in court.
The influx of street children rural areas in our country will continue to intensify until the Government changes its policies towards economically empowering its people especially the rural dwellers,“ he commented.