Street Children- They Deserve a better life

(Moizzara Zafar, )

Do we ever think?
Children we often see wiping windscreen of a stopped car at a traffic signal, they have some ambitions and their own destiny to accomplish their desire dreams like other children. They are precious in the eyes of the Father and deserve to feel safe, valued, and loved. They are the future of Pakistan. They deserve to have their basic needs and to have the opportunity to receive an education so they have the hope of a more sustainable future.

The word “street children” usually refers to children who live and work on the streets in public places such as markets or who don’t have enough money to fulfill their basic needs such as food, clothes, education and etc. Many of these precious children find themselves in this situation as the result of poverty, war, abuse or other family issues.

Probably there are 100 million children living on the streets. However the exact number of street children is nearly impossible to come by. These children usually have little to no supervision from adults and out of desperation many of them are forced to do things like beg and steal in order to survive.

Children who live on the streets are unable to receive an education or proper healthcare. They are incredibly vulnerable yet hard to protect making them an easy target for exploitation.

A child “of the streets” these children have been desert by their family with no surviving family members. They are only responsible for their own survival. They have to find shelter and food however they can.

A child “on the street” these children have family and are in regular contact with them. Many of them spend their days on the streets in order to escape abuse or because of overcrowding in their home. In some instances a child “on the street” is responsible for bringing in additional income for the family.

A child of a “street family” these children live on the streets with their families. Usually these families have come up against a tragedy or hardship like war, natural disaster or simply unemployment.

However, what is heartbreaking is to see very young children begging on their caregivers’ behest. I have a small conversation with a child who was sitting outside at Karachi University ate. He was 9 year old regarding his work and why he wasn’t attending school. His reply was simple upsetting “Main school jana chahta ho,aagr school jaun ga tou khana kaha sae kahayen gye.” (I want to go to school but if I go to school, where will we eat from?)

In situations like these we usually end up blaming the government. However I would put the burden of blame on the parents or caregivers of these children. It is important to point out that there are a number of schools run by NGOs in Karachi that pay underprivileged children to receive free education. Unfortunately records show that many students drop out after attending these schools for a few days. The reason is schools cannot match the earning that the child brings home through begging! Why waste time on education when your 5 year old child can earn more in a day dragging his/her bare feet on the roads! It is here that the government seriously needs to intervene. While on one hand programs aimed at poverty alleviation ought to strengthened and implemented effectively.

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