New Era (Windhoek)

4 July 2014

Namibia: Our Poor Street Children

Nuusita Ashipala I PUT my head on my pillow and my thoughts dwelled on children who have to spend the cold winter with no blanket or proper bed to sleep.

I vividly envisaged a pale-looking child lying on some old boxes in a creepy corner with no blanket to shield off the cold. I wondered where are the mothers of such children.

More so, I wondered about the old African proverb that it takes a whole village to raise a child: are these children in the streets not African?

Aren't children supposed to be raised by the whole society? With no proper sleep, I toddled out of bed to find some answers.

I see a cheerful boy making his home with old newspapers in the street. He dashes to the nearby service station for a quick wash and then sprints to the nearby dustbin for an early morning breakfast before his day of begging begins.

His routine is the same the whole year - a quickwash at the service station and an early morning breakfast from the bin. But his begging doesn't always reap rewards

And when dusk approaches he's back to his pseudo home.

I emphasise ... what happened to the whole village raising all the children.

Why are there children in our streets, in a country with such a small population. Are the Save Our Streets (SOS) homes full or are the children reluctant to leave their pseudo homes?

Many a time these children become juvenile offenders and through their street-life contact with hardened criminals they are slowly moulded into professional thugs.

I suggest a school of industry be built for such children to keep them busy for them not to land up back in the streets. Further, juvenile offenders should be encouraged to rather enlist at an industrial school than end up in jail.

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