Children living on the streets are now known for being thieves is not an overstatement. Their parents might be the ones who train them how to steal or beg because they cannot offer their children a better life.
I was standing and waiting for a taxi on the side of the street the other day; a little boy who lives on the street started talking to me. Out of curiosity I started asking him how old he is and whether he goes to school or not. Someone from the other side of the street called out to me and the kid who told me that he was 7 years old started cursing him back. When I turned around there was another kid who was running as he was behind me trying to open my bag and steal anything he finds upfront.
So I asked myself what is the future of Addis and the children on the streets. Yes, there are efforts to provide for and limit the number of children on the streets by the government. There are different orphanages which work on child adoption from which a lot of foreigners adopt kids from. These international adoptions create big revenue for the agencies and the government without securing the kids a better future as there is no follow up mechanism. Family planning is also being promoted to allow families make sure their income match their family size. There are different programs by governmental and nongovernmental organizations working to bring children living on the streets to be involved in school, get food and the like.
Despite these efforts the number of street children is increasing every day. The parents are not even begging for money as before. Rather they send their children to beg as the parents are sure that their kids will bring more money one way or the other. The sad part of it all is these children are becoming professional beggars and pickpockets. Thus, the increase in the number of street children highly increase the number of street crimes that take place in Addis Ababa. This should be a huge concern today as these children are the future.
People, who never treat children in their family in such a disrespectful manner, take away the little dignity the children deserve for being a child and a human being at large. We hear so many people calling these children bad names for no particular reason. I have witnessed a person walking on the street saying that children living on the streets are a disgrace and an embarrassment to the country and the generation. When one cannot blame the children as the street is not kind to them and they are abused and beaten up. They steal not to buy something luxurious but to feed themselves.
Children are like sponges they take in what is around them. As everyone treats them badly and disrespect them they will develop hate for the community they live in. But if most of us show them love and respect they take that in and it will be a seed for their own better future. Why do we name them poor children and make them feel like they are born with the title ‘poor’. Naming has a huge mental effect; children named poor at such an early stage will develop a poor mentality. So all of us should be conscious of the language we use around them as each of us can be a change factor.
Children on the street are as innocent as children in each and everyone’s family. But the environment they are brought up in taught them how to survive in a tough way. Why don’t we take a few hours from our spare time or donate money to programs working on children living on the streets or give these children home when we have the means to take care of one more child in our homes. Children are the future as they are the ones who takeover so we should give them opportunities. It has not been an easy world for them so everyone should feel responsible to give them something a litter better as they are the future of Addis too.