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Broken social systems raising child beggars

Children living in the streets is a common sight, a phenomenon evoking immense concerns in sections of society. Street children devise varied survival strategies to cope with the hardships they encounter in their daily lives.

For Kwamena (not his real name), begging for alms along some of Accra’s busiest streets and constantly living through hardships have become a part of his life that he cannot dream of a better life beyond his daily struggles.

 

At age 10, Kwamena who should have been in school like his age mates but for poverty and a broken home , now loiters in the open which also serve as his abode. For the past two years this boy is all by himself and lived in forlornness. It is a matter of survival than truancy that has taken him from the slums of Ashaiman to the Airport City area where he wipes the windscreen of cars that have stopped at traffic intersections for some coins from sympathetic drivers or passengers. Basically he buys food with the small amount of money he makes by chance.

 

Early morning,  he emerges from his hideout and together with friends to beg for alms wherever there is slow-moving traffic until he retires to bed in a makeshift structure inside the Legion Village. It is in the vicinity of Opeibea house and the Airport city where he is often spotted soliciting any form of help.

In the rush hours, he hits the street in a struggle for survival, the inherent dangers in that venture notwithstanding.

 

The youngster often looks unkempt and walks barefooted as his torn shirt exposes his collar bones. He bears dry, scaly skin and  looks generally malnourished. Despite their pitiable sight, even the rich are unaffected and drive past the scorned Kwamena and his friends.

Kwamena says expatriates often show more concern than their fellow Ghanaians who tend to be more hostile when they approach them to solicit money.

Kwamena is an example of the growing phenomenon of child beggars, forced to the streets due to broken homes, poverty in the family  and failed social systems. In the process, vulnerable children spilled into the open by circumstances have no one to ran to but to fend for themselves. This is where they are exposed to social vices.

The nation’s supreme legal text, the constitution and several international protocols, make provisions for the protection of children, out of which institutions are created and policies formulated but are seemingly blunt on the realities of target audiences.  Children in distress are products of social inequalities. Could it be the result of poor  policy implementation or simply the lack of will to act in the interest of troubled children ?

 

In the UNICEF (2012) report on The State of the World’s Children; Children in an Urban
World, Anthony Lake emphasizes that, “disadvantaged children bear witness to a moral
offense which is the failure to secure the child’s right to survival and participation in society.
When society fails to extend to children the services and protection that would enable them
develop as productive and creative individuals; it loses the social, cultural and economic
contributions they might have made to the society”

Consequently, the affluent and influential who drive past these abandoned children without showing concern could eventually become victims when deprivation and the absence of hope turn these children into hardened criminals whose main source of survival will be to rob the rich in society.

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