Today as I was headed to work, I saw a boy. He was perhaps 17 years old or 18 years old at most and I couldn’t help it but he fully grabbed my attention. He was tall, but not so tall. His complexion was relatively dark and his skin seemed rough. His clothes hang from his body, he had a blue, torn, long sleeve shirt and very old dirty jeans that had different patches of color that kept falling off every time he walked. His lips were dry. In fact, they were so dry that I could see them bleed. His eyes were sad, very sad that when he looked at me, I could almost decipher a message not spoken.
The people walking on the bridge, where he stood evaded him like a plague. They walked past him each holding their bags tightly close for fear of what they imagine he could do. However, he paid no attention to the people passing by. His focus was on the little baby he was holding. I could sense the child’s discomfort from the deafening cries it made.
I looked around to see where the baby’s mother was, and there she was, snuggling on the remains of a thrown piece of mango. She was about 15 years, judging from the way she conducted herself, she was obviously younger than him.”Wacha nimalize alafu nitamyonyesha,”I heard her say.
He tried to soothe the crying baby. He lifted her up and as soon as he put her down, the cries began. He would then kiss the child’s tiny face and as if educating her, would tell her to look at the vehicles that were on the road. Lucky for them, the vehicles were at a standstill because of the traffic jam and therefore, they had many vehicles to look at.
How many street kids do we see every day? Here in Nakuru, I have noted the numbers have been rising at an alarming rate and at some point, I wondered if they were all deliberately summoned by some unknown course.
It’s no surprise that most of them are still juveniles, relatively between the ages of 7 years-17 years who have no place they call home. Regardless of what transpired to bring them to the streets, these children are children with needs like any other child.
They need to be protected from Child Abuse! I have noted with a great concern that most of them are giving birth at a very young age with no means of provisions. They not only risk their health by giving birth at an early age but also that of the newborn.
Most of the girls on the streets are sexually abused by other street children and sometimes by regular people in the society. Boys are also not safe from abuse, they too are sodomized. These children are at high risk of early pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Without a source of income, most of them turn to robbery, prostitution among others to provide for themselves and their children. This again contributes to an increase in the number of street families.
What can we do about it? Isn’t that the question that is always in our minds whenever we meet them? I know for a fact that educating them on matters of sex and gender-based violence will play a huge role in at least improving their health and saving them from risks such as early pregnancy and contracting STD’S and STI’S. Most of the abused street children do not know that they can receive medical services from the hospital. They prefer to keep quiet and bear painful consequences on their own.
We should not have kids who think sexual abuse is okay. No, they need to be made aware that it is a crime that can easily result in them spending the rest of their lives in prison.
I do not bear all the answers on what we should do but I strongly believe that if we do nothing, we are all at risk. Our businesses too are at risk because these kids on the street will always look for ways to survive and fend for their young ones.
So, as I drew near to the boy, I saw him hold the baby so tight in his arms as if reassuring it that he will never let anything harm it. You could tell just how precious the child was to him despite his condition. And at that point, the baby’s crying stopped!