Children. A gift from God. A joy and an extension of one's family.
A hope for the future.
But what happens when both parents die of disease, and the government cannot cope? Then the orphans are left, alone and sad and without the skills to take care of themselves or their many siblings, and with no way to even find the food to feed themselves.
These children are on the street due to many reasons. Namely:
- HIV/AIDs scourge: so they are homeless orphans
- Extreme poverty at home
- Domestic violence and
- Famine - hunger in their communities
Many children who have been orphaned by the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and many children who live in extreme poverty at home, and many children whose communities are facing famine go to the city's or they are sent there, or just dropped off in hope of seeking opportunities which simply do not exist.
Unfortunately, where there is poverty and lack of education, all too offer there is domestic violence, and all too many of these children have been emotionally, or physically, or even sexually abused, and in places where people believe in witch doctors, the children are even abused magically and demonically, even ritually sacrificed and murdered by torture.
In some ways, these children who make it to the city then are better off in the city than in the villages, in that they do find something to eat, but the physical and emotional and social cost to all of us is so enormous it could almost be said they are selling their souls to fill their bellies.
At this point, like any lost child, they don't know where to go, they have no idea how to get food, and they don't know where to sleep at night, and everyone is their enemy because the city is already over full of hungry mouths and lonely, dirt covered children fighting for the scraps they can get. To survive, they form groups and packs half-ruled by the older children, who send each one of the younger children out each day to travel the city streets looking for anything to feed themselves and the others of their group. They beg for money, they look for anything someone has thrown away which they might eat or wear, they steal anything that might be sold to fill their empty bellies, and when there is no one to give them anything when the beg, and nothing left to steal, they sell the only thing they have left: their bodies, trading sex for coins in the street.
When all a child has left is to sell his or her body, they are totally exposed to abuse, and to killer disease. You have to remember these are kids: they've had no training, they've had no education. They have no idea what sanitation is; they don't even have a way to take a bath, and they certainly have no idea what AIDS is, or how to prevent it. These children are not given free protection, and if they were given condoms for example, there is no one to show them how to use it because they are not given an education in health issues, since they lack schooling.
Many street children are already expectant mothers, or are wandering the streets with their own babies. These babies can be from newborns up to half-grown youths. The mothers go out and still have sex, because they have to feed their families. Mothers who are children are having children, none of them ever educated because education costs money for meals at school, uniforms, shoes, books and pencils etc which they don’t have - it is not paid for by the government - and if the children ever get any money, they give it to the older children (in order to avoid getting beat up) and they eat up what little money they do get. When uneducated and abandoned mothers attempt to raise children on the streets, the generation that follows them is even less civilized, and less capable of being integrated into society - they become even more like savages.
So, we must do something. If not for our own hearts, to comfort our own sorrows for seeing this human tragedy, then for the future of Uganda: These half-savage street grown children will be the neighbors of the children we now have, and the children we yet will have. Make no mistake, all of society is affected, and will be affected, for generations to come.
We started Ssuubi ly’Abato Voluntary Organization. We have made a small, yet rewarding start to helping street children. Today we invite you to join with us in this effort in whatever way you wish. No matter what good you choose to do, do it now and keep on doing good, because the generations to come most definitely need you.