11 August 2017

Liberia: Street-Selling Kids Lament Conditions

Children involved in street-selling across Monrovia are said to be at risk and subjected to other form of abuses as they are denied right to basic primary education.

Street-selling has become a norm in the Liberian society since the end of the civil war. Most parents/guardians use kids (their own or not) as breadwinners or other financial gains at the detrimental of other needs they have including access to education which is a fundamental right of every child.

Parents/guardians are hiding behind hovering pervasive hardship affecting ordinary citizens to deprive children varying opportunities by sending them into harms-way.

Most of the children found selling expressed disappointment in their parents' actions when this paper conducted a sampling Wednesday. Somehow aggrieved over the behaviors, the children lamented the conditions, and said their parents heartless and are endangering their future.

Street selling poses serious risk to our lives, especially on the main Boulevard where motor vehicles are seen moving up and down, one of them told this paper.

Edwin Woanyen, an 11-yr-old boy who sells cold water (sachets of water) on Broad Street said cold water selling is their only means of survival because his mother is visually impaired and his father is dead.

"I and my blind mother live with her oldest sister on Center Street. After school, my aunty sends me to sell cold water. She says since my mother is living with disabilities, I should help her so she will be able to pay my school fees," Edwin lamented.

Edwin, who also claimed to be a 4th grader of the Center Street Community School, said there is no means he can stop selling in the streets, though it seriously challenges his studies.

The minor complained that street-selling, especially as a child exposes children to danger including motor accident, kidnaping, and living a loosed life or ending up as a zogos.

Also explaining her ordeal, Nancy Kataka, a 13-yr-old girl selling peppermint candies along the main boulevard in Congo Town confirmed that street selling exposes her to danger especially as a female.

"As for me, I stay with my own biological mother who is selling though my father is dead, but she forces me every day to come on the streets to sell. Sometimes, I even stay here late hours when there is no one to buy. I have no option because if I do not sell she will mean me with food," she said sadly.

According to her, some unknown men almost raped her one night while on her way home from selling.

"I was going home that night after selling when some men called me to buy candies but when I went there they wanted to take off my clothes but I shouted and they ran away," Nancy explained churning with fear.

"The human right people can be running behind us, they can carry us to the station; but our parents can pay money to get us out and the next day we are back in the streets again running all between cars. Sometimes the passengers can even carry our goods without paying because the car can be moving fast while running behind it," Tony Kamara, a 15-yr-old boy stated.

Commenting also on the issue, Martha Kamara, a mother of the 15-yr-old boy who also sells fruits along with her son blamed the government for the situation.

"This government is responsible for the condition of our children because the price of everything has gone up; my husband is not working. There is no job, only the market we are surviving on; so I told my son to always come in the evening to help me after school. Though it is risky but we need to pay his school fees," Martha insisted.

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