There are two sets; The first set, I see them in traffic running after cars and pedestrians as they hawk their wares; snacks, drinks, household accessories and tools ranging from sets of dining spoons to vacuum cleaners to plasma TVs etc, just to ensure they survive even though it may cost them their life. They are usually between the ages of 9-15 and at that same age I remember been a bubbly school girl with ribbons in my hair and in primary school studying mathematics and English and having poetry class. I love this set of people dearly.
The second set, I see them also in traffic and I wonder why the government is yet to do something decisively about them. This set are women and between the ages of 25- 40. They carry two babies on both arms as they beg for alms under the blazing Lagos sun and also in the rain. They disgust me and I am infuriated because a child is been exposed to the worst of elements because of selfish gains. They may be poor, yes, but they could also eke out a living doing some other trade.
The first set, I love to watch from my car window as they persuade their potential customers to buy their wares. Then they spot me and about five kids come running after my car trying to convince me to buy their snacks and a bottle of drink. Their fighting spirit is so contagious. One of them is really pushy and persistent and though I say no to him, he still runs after my car and says, ‘Ma, please buy from me’. How do I refuse such request? I am not hungry and do not want to buy snacks or drinks, but yet I buy from him and ask him to keep the change. His face immediately lit up and he mutters ‘God bless you Ma’ showing me a set of white teeth.
I ponder what life may have been for this first set if they had the same opportunities I had as a child growing up in a supportive family and exposed to education and the good things of life. Next, I wonder if the big men and those in government power, who drive to their plush offices everyday in their big cars on the same road and see these kids put out their life in danger in order to get the most basic thing of life: Food; ever see the need to take them off the road. How do they sleep with themselves seeing these children everyday who should be in school but are aren’t as they can’t afford to go yet they are citizens of a country that is the world’s fourth biggest producer of crude oil? Am yet to get answers to these my questions but instead of pondering, I have decided to act.
For the second set, criminal charges should be brought against them and laws promulgated against such. How does a woman who is not a disable (Not that disability should even stop anyone) expose these tender children of 6-18months to harsh weathers just to use them as tools to solicit pity from road users? Why don’t these women do manual jobs and make little money to take care of these children? (Most times, these children are never theirs!)
I love children and young people and I envision a country where these children are given equal opportunities to grow up and be all they can be without the drawbacks of circumstances and access at least, the basic things of food and education.
No child within school age should be in traffic running after drivers and passengers just to sell a snack that costs less than 1/3 of 1 US dollar.
I need a platform to draw resources and support from to achieve this goal and though my mission is to start small with my little feet patters, I look forward to a beautiful sunset where children are allowed to be children and instead of running after cars on the streets, they are running after kites after school hours… ‘Being a voices of our correspondents offers me this’.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Vision.