"Children at street: whose concern?"
“Street children: a matter of serious concern”
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It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, like any other weekend. I decided to make the best of it by visiting my maternal uncle in Bhaktapur. Mid way at Gaushala, my bus stopped and I saw a scene on the roadside that set deep in my mind. I saw 3 kids- 2 boys, and a girl, around 10-12 years old, wandering with a big rag, collecting something. This is not the first time that I saw street children, but I don’t know why, this time the scene took me to a brainstorm. As the bus started moving, I started to think about them. Many questions raised in my mind. Who are they? Where are they from? Where might their parents be? Why are they in street? Where are the people and organizations who talk about the child right?
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I instantly quenched my query in the Internet in my mobile phone. I came to know that there are around 5,000 street children in Nepal and about 400 to 600 are in Kathmandu itself, according to UNICEF. They are in the street because either they don't have parents or parents don’t provide them proper care and guidance, mostly due to poverty. The street is their home and their milieu where they grow. The street children suffer a lot, not only for food and shelter, but also their health is compromised. To fulfill their basic needs, they unknowingly commit crimes. They steal, beat, even murder for food and for the assurance of shelter. They get involved in illicit work due to bad company. Many of them become a drug addict as they grow up.There are many problems they are facing in their daily life. Let alone boys, these literatures made me wonder about the problems the girls might be going through during their periods.
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I wonder what if these street children are given an opportunity for better education? What if they are provided with the basic needs they need? So many of these children could become great and famous as they grow up, as they might have immense talent. But, these brilliant minds are wandering in the street for food with no one to care about their health, food, shelter, etc. It is sad that the so-called the pillars of the nation are becoming the victims of a drug. Most of the children are convicted of crimes, which they are not even aware of.
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What is even saddening is that I can hear most of the political leaders, professionals talking about the development and prosperity of the nation through youth empowerment. But, how can we imagine the better youth of tomorrow where today’s children are wandering in the street? Ironic it is, these children might not even know about child rights, which their leaders have been spitting several times in public speeches.
How can we assure high literacy rate, zero child labor, no drug addict, no child living with HIV and other health problem by letting children be in the street?
My thoughts led me all the way to Bhaktapur when the bus jerked to a halt. I got off the bus, but the heavy feeling in my heart did not get off. I walked along the road thinking that youth must do something for youth and children who are in street. The situation came up like this not only due to the weakness of nation, but all of us are equally responsible for this devastating situation.The Government must build childcare homes collaborating with different organizations and assure that these childcare homes provide proper care.
I got further committed to contribute to the solution for the problem in whatever way I can. I rang the bell of my uncle’s house, and my little cousin came at the door with her ever charming and smiling face. I wish we could bring such smiles to other children in the streets that were probably of her age.