Since April of 2011, the 12th of April every year has been set as an International Day for Street Children, a special day to give a louder voice to the millions of street children all around the world so their rights be not ignored.
Nearly all countries have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, towards ensuring that all children’s rights are integrated into national law, however many government policies and practices still do not include street children, and certain cultural practices encourage the emergence of street Children.
The InnerCity Mission for Children is a faith based Non Governmental Organization under the auspices of the Chris Oyakhilome Foundation dedicated to reaching indigent children in forgotten places.
The Innercity Mission for Children uses a day like this to observe and promote the awareness on the plight of this extremely vulnerable group and the dire consequence of the society’s neglect in addressing their problem.
National Daily asks Pastor Victor Nosegbe and Sister Ijeoma Kamalu who are both part coordinators of the Innercity Mission some basic questions;
What is the significance of this observance, The International Day for Street Children? And what are the triggers for high number of Street Children? What may you call different categories of street children and the implications of neglecting this extremely vulnerable group?
“Street Children, from the name, are Children who live on the streets and mostly under the elements. Experiencing poverty, homelessness, or both. Because they are minors, they are often subject to abuse (Physical, sexual & emotional), different types of exploitation and in some instances even murder” says Victor.
Victor also said “This day is significant because it spotlights the danger this extremely vulnerable group faces left on the Streets, and seeks to galvanize concrete actions from across the divide, to stand up jointly for the rights and welfare of the street Child”.
This menace is caused and triggered by a range of factors – poverty, un-education, poor family relations, overcrowded homes, natural and manmade disasters, family tragedies or hardships. “Irrespective of how a Child got to the Street, the important thing is that a Child is innocent and a minor, that ought to be protected by the larger society, and taken off the Streets so they have the chance of leading meaningful lifes”.
Ijeoma hinted at the various categories of street children available, “there are those who work on the streets as their only means of getting money, those who take refuge on the streets during the day but return to some form of family at night and those who permanently live on the street without a family network”.
The Children on the street left on their own face hardships and mostly live under the elements, they lack the most essential and basic livelihood needs, they lack safety and security, exposed to drug abuse and at risk of joining criminal minded gangs, kidnapping and forced into begging, sexual and other forms of abuse, forced into Child labour and likely to end up without an education.
The broader implication is that this Street Child grows up to be an “irresponsible adult” that would task society, instead of contributing meaningfully to it.
This is why, they must not be neglected, as It concerns everyone, because we live in a connected society, where what affects one person, affects others! This is why everybody should be interested in this, and contribute in small and big ways, to reduce the numbers of street Children.
So National Daily asks further; Lets Zero in on on this years campaign. Tell our readers what the InnerCity Mission for Children is doing?
“This year, as we mark the International Day for Street Children, the InnerCity Mission for Children is running an online campaign as part of our public advocacy efforts to bring the plight and challenges faced by Street Children to the fore. This global online campaign, underscores the role of different actors in society: from Governments, private sector, development sector players and indeed individuals and family units. We seek to bring this serious issue into the consciousness of many, who ordinarily may not be thinking about it.
“The campaign is run with several e-cards, info-graphics, pictures and creative write ups to stir even the unwilling to action, both in little ways and in big ways” said the coordinators.
We also learnt that the InnerCity Mission just launched the Global Missions Partnership (GMP), online.
While Street Children may be found almost everywhere, they are more concentrated at a given time, in certain areas than others. Through the Global Mission Partnership (GMP), an individual partner, family or organization has the opportunity to adopt and sponsor Street Children in locations and Countries where the need is greatest, and get help to Street Children in identified Countries where this menace is in alarming proportions.
Through Filed staff in collaboration with volunteers, the Innercity mission has identified 17 Countries and locations where they would work in 2018, with identified interventions and projects to benefit street Children in particular and the indigent, in general.
An example of a Country under GMP is Liberia, where the numbers of street and orphaned Children have increased as a result of the last Ebola Virus that ravaged the Country and killed many parents.
Another is South Sudan, where a civil War has left many poor Children living in camps since the crises started 5 years ago.
In Malawi, another Country under the GMP initiative, about 80% of Street Children orphaned from HIV/AIDS epidemic live in the capital Lilongwe.
In Pakistan, Child labour, in brick making factories is very rampant, occasioned by extreme poverty
In Nigeria for example, there are many street Children in the Northern cities, occasioned by traditional practices. These have been exasperated by the insurgency in the North East Region.