Every second a child is maltreated somewhere in the world. Every minute in Africa, a child is been exposed to child labour and molestation in Africa. Every hour a child suffers from emotional and psychological depression. Not a week goes by without a child dropping into the street. They represent the face of hunger, insecurity and social neglect in Nigeria. Statistics by UNICEF shows that there are over 180million street children in the world.
If all the street children were converted to a country it would be the 7th largest country in the world. Unimportant as this issue may look, it can threaten the economy of the affected countries like Nigeria. Bringing the spot light down Cross River State which is one of the most famous tourist state in Nigeria and also harbours the neatest state capital, tourism has played a major role in the derivation of internal revenue. The peace and serenity of the state’s capital calabar may be tested by the influx of children on the street and rapid increase of the nefarious activities of these street children. Calabar alone is said to have over 2000 street children.
Their filthy clothes, unkempt looks and raucous language mark them out in any crowd as street kids. Even as many people loath them and won’t even touch them with a twelve foot pole, they hardly care. Confident and adept in street life, they beg and scavenge for food to survive. Down in the streets of calabar we met Imaobong, a little girl who would not be more than thirteen years of age taking care of four little children and when asked who these children they were, she replied that they were hers. She came to live there because she had lost her parents and she didn’t have any relatives to go to. While she was living there, she was faced with hardship. And so, the stories appeal to these young children everywhere on the streets.
Now, the real questions are: why are these children on the streets? Her case is not different from Joseph Akpan a.k.a nwanta nkwaeyen, one of the children who said “I’m 16years, I’m the Second-In-Command of this group because we have several groups; I attended Government Secondary School Barrack Road before I dropped out in JSS 2. “My story is that my father is dead and my mother re-married. They lived at Anantigha in Calabar South. My father in-law doesn’t like to see me and he said the house can not contain two of us that is why I left the house. I’m a street boy I stay anywhere but my group normally sleep at Marian road opposite NAF Club. We sleep outside and fetch water to bath before the day break. I saw my mum last in December 2012 and she doesn’t worry about me. I want to go back to school if I have the means”.
Christian Ini Udoh, 9years from Akwa Ibom said “money lost in my father’s house; Five Thousand Naira and he said I stole the money and that I have ‘chop witch’, so I can’t stay with him and he pushed
me out of the house. I joined the group from the street and we move together to look for food and
play, we pick rubber from dust bin and wash plate for people. I want to go back to school and become
Udeme Peter is 11 years from Okoyong in Odukpani, he said he lost some money after hawking goods
and the mother drove him out of the house since December 2012.
Christian Asuquo from Akpabuyo, had brushes all over his body with a sword design tattoo which he
said is a sign of danger on his arm. He told our Team that he has no hope except “where ever
God direct and want me to be. Their numbers increase daily as many others are attracted by the thrills of the life of freedom in the street wander away from home or are sent away by parents or guardians. Having an age range of 3-17 the tales that took them to the street are varied as their faces and bizarre as their scraggy appearance. Homeless far from parental care and infusions or perquisite societal norms these kids sleep rough, roam the street and live wild. Scratching their existence by running errands for prostitutes, stealing, picking pockets in the streets of calabar.
Children they say are the leaders of tomorrow… what would be the future of these kids and the state at large when these homeless kids are venerable to kidnapping , trafficking and even indulging in addiction of hard drugs and other criminal activities, feeding from the dustbins and sleeping on the street exposed to harsh weather climates and disease conditions of even death is not inevitable as our team has a record of a deceased child late victor aged 12 who was killed by a vehicle after taking hard drugs. The unfortunate situation of these kids could have happened to any of us, our children, our brothers, sisters. to you their situation maybe a calamity but to us an opportunity we saw to take these kids off the street and transform them from destructive to constructive. Project let’s go!!! Let’s go out of the street! Let’s go away from danger! Let’s go to education! Let’s go to empowerment! Let’s go to a brighter future! Let’s go to a better Nigeria.
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