THE TENDER FORGOTTEN SIDE OF THE ASSUMED ‘DEVILS’
Looking beyond all the misconceptions and wrongly added up assumptions about the street children, commonly known as ‘chokoraa’, I clearly see what most people tend to ignore. When we see that small girl or boy with torn and dirty clothes, shaggy unkempt hair with a bottle of glue stuck between their teeth all we want to do is walk furthest away from them. We see them like small devils ready to attack yet we never took our time to get to know their deeper selves that is yearning for love, care and understanding. They have so much pain hidden under all that rebelliousness and violence that they show in first impressions.
Working with a non-governmental organization dealing with street children made me more open minded than before and I couldn’t avoid getting so much affected emotionally by their true selves. One of the incidents that I will never forget is when I first had an introduction session with them and one of the older street boys started with a short prayer. ‘Ewe Mungu tunakushukuru kwa kutuweka hai tukaweza kuishi kuona krismasi hadi mwaka mpya. Ijapokuwa tumepitia mambo magumu mengi na siku nyingine tumelala njaa lakini pia tunashukuru kwa maana tunatambua kuwa kuna wale hawakuweza kuishi mpaka leo na washafariki. Tunakushukuru Mungu baba kwa walimu uliotupa na tunamkaribisha mwalimu mpya sana na tunampa heshima yake. Tunashukuru pia anatuchekea na hatuiti ‘chokoraa’ kama tunavyoitwa huko nje na watu wengine wote. Watu wengi hawatambui kuwa sisi ni survivors and hatupendi kuitwa chokoraa kwani sisi pia ni binadamu kama wengine. Mungu tunakushukuru kwa kila jambo ulotupa,amen.’
I was filled with so many mixed emotions and I couldn’t stop to question myself, how many of us have a much better life and yet can never stop a minute to make a short prayer and thank God to be so much fortunate?? I blamed myself for some time for also having a pre-assumed attitude and fear towards them. I realized that from their stories, most are victims of circumstances whereby they had no other option but run to the streets for survival. While some had to walk from Nairobi to Mombasa in search of life, others ride under the buses for hours to get to their destinations to date. One of the crippled boys who walks in crutches used this method to get to Mombasa and we can all picture how tough and rough it can be for a crippled to ride under the bus in an entire journey. Some have been looking for their mothers over twenty years while others are born just there in the streets. With all that, there come the government officers who chase them out of the streets which are their only home, without considering any way to help them out.
The young girls are even more vulnerable to sexual harassment and misguidance in the streets. They have a tougher time in the streets and they clearly talk of how much they hate it when they ask for money in the streets from people and they are abused and called names such as prostitutes.
No one can deny that they can be violent and some are thieves and hard core robbers, druggists and some rapists’ maybe but the fact is that these are forgotten people of the community. They are so much yearning for help, care, love and appreciation from the society. They need guidance and counselling so that they can relieve their stress and get help to be better people.
It is for this reason that I highly salute ‘Glads house Kenya’ an NGO which has taken its time, energy and wealth to invest on the street children and have successfully rehabilitated and reformed quite a number of street children and led them into independency and into foster homes. Same to ‘Wema center’ and to all the other charity centers who have golden hearts and risk their lives in making other people’s lives be better. Kudos to you all!