This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
future of those children The children from bad homes The children from bad schools And back again Yet I know some might make it Some might try But many will not And that scares me most I am really scared of the future ahead What might and what might not And hope for a clear future For all the street children
Poverty Poetry - Two Worlds
You don't know my city or the dusty streets where I live You don't know my name; you don't know ME. You have your own troubles, your OWN world ± why should I be in it? Your world is school and homework; TV and music; shopping and friends You are concerned about your grades, your weight and your Mum nagging you to clean up your bedroom And will she buy those designer jeans you must have for the Party on Saturday night. You are looking forward to your holiday in America and leaving school to get that job you've always wanted. My world is hard, unloving, unfair, ...worse I don't have any designer jeans, just this one, dirty, threadbare dress I have never been to school; I've never read a book I have no Mum to nag me, or care for me ± she died three years ago I have no bedroom to keep tidy, because I have no home. I'm concerned about where I will sleep tonight ± will the Policeman wake me up, beat me up, lock me up, worse...?
I'm concerned about my aching, empty stomach I'm not well - I have a disease I can't spell and no medicine to treat it I have nothing to look forward to... Except an early, lonely death from a disease my underfed body could not resist. They call me beggar, thief, worse... They look at me with hate in their eyes, then chase me away ± what have I done?! You see my picture in your newspaper and on your TV screen, but you turn away You don't see ME! I AM in your world ± OUR world. I am also aboard spaceship earth, but you are a rich passenger and I am a poor one You CAN understand my world: ask questions, find answers, find ME! Will you try? It might help you make sense of your own world. What's my name? MY name is Street Child of India.
FRISHTA, a NGO working for the betterment of the street children has this poem on their website, why?
Street children are those for whom the street, more than their family, has become their real home. Street children or orphans can be divided into three main categories: Children on the Street: The largest category, these children have homes and most return to their families at the end of the day. Most earn a living for themselves and their families by begging or working. Children of the Street: Children who have chosen the street as their home and a place to seek shelter, livelihood, and companionship. They are in contact with their family occasionally. Abandoned Children: These children have severed all ties with their families and are entirely on their own.
Nobody knows for sure. Estimates differ widely ± anywhere from 30 to 170 million.
Street children: a vicious cycle of violence & poverty
KARACHI: The links between poverty, child abuse and child labour take on renewed significance given that there are an estimated 70,000 children on the streets in Pakistan. Data complied by the Azad Foundation indicates that there are 12,000 homeless children between the
ages of seven and 17 in Karachi alone, while a report presented by the Madadgar helpline for women and children says that the figure could be as high as 15,000. Where violence and poverty forced the majority of these children to abandon their homes in the first place, the viciousness of life on the street forces them towards crime and substance abuse. Research conducted by some non-profit organisations shows the most such runaways come from large families that have recently migrated to Karachi from various rural areas. In the city, most of them come from areas such as Korangi, PIB Colony and Macher Colony. The fact that an estimated 66 per cent cite physical abuse at home or at the workplace as the reason they ran away seems to prove American writer Zig Ziglar¶s comment that ³Kids go where there is excitement; they stay where there is love.´ Abuse and addiction According to Anwer Qazi, secretary to Abdul Sattar Edhi, the majority of the runaways are boys and most of them are addicted to sniffing glue or petrol or smoking cigarettes, hashish and even heroin. While the Sindh Child Act and a number of other laws declare the government responsible for the safety and protection of all children, there is no official support network in place to help them. Mr Qazi told Dawn that the police bring a few such destitutes to the Edhi Centre but the boys usually elect to return to the street and scrounge for food and small change. Such boys are often encouraged to leave their homes by an acquaintance who has already done it, and few ever return. Dr Aisha Mahnaz, a paediatric doctor and a member of the Kompal Child Abuse Prevention Society says that runaways generally join a group of other street children, and the newest entrant becomes the group leader¶s favourite. While this brings access to drugs, food and clothing, it also means sexual abuse by the group leader. According to Dr Mahnaz, homosexuality is prevalent among street children and a new member is initially protected from everyone except the leader, till he is replaced as the favourite. On their own, such boys are vulnerable to being sexually abused by the drivers of transport vehicles and upper class men, says Aqsa Zainab, project manager of the Azad Foundation. They therefore prefer to stay in a gang where such widespread abuse is less likely. However, the vicious cycle of sexual abuse means that the victim soon develops the character of an abuser and forms his own gang of younger street children, she comments. A circle of violence Most such boys carry a razor blade with them as a means of self-protection or the intimidation of others. Sometimes, says Ms Zainab, the group leader will even instigate boys to fight each other
or injure themselves to prove their loyalty. The face, neck and wrists of 12-year-old Shahid are crisscrossed with cuts he received in various fights, and malnourishment makes him look far younger than he is. He left home when he was seven and has been sleeping on footpaths and in parks since then. He says that he is one of 12 siblings and his family is very poor. ³My mother used to force us to stitch cloth flowers all day and she never let us play,´ he recalls. ³She would beat me when I didn¶t do as she said.´ He concedes that she probably did love him and that he misses his siblings but says that he does not want to return home. While Shahid maintains that he has never been sexually abused, 12-year-old Salman has a different story to tell. ³Men and other boys on the street used to make me do such immoral things,´ he said, ³I was much weaker than them.´ Salman ran away from his house some years ago because after his father¶s death, his maternal uncle abused him and his sister. ³I beg and steal to survive,´ he admitted, and said that boys like him are often harassed and robbed by policemen. Both boys said that they sniff glue and smoke hashish, which are easily available and inexpensive. Unable to find employment, some runaways turn to prostitution. Such boys are often found at the Mauripur truck stand, Essa Nagri, Lee Market, Saddar, Gurumandir, Numaish, Sohrab Goth, Husainabad, Water Pump, Aisha Manzil and Abdullah Shah Ghazi¶s shrine. Their services are usually hired for an entire day, for which they earn up to Rs50. Little help at hand Rapid urbanisation, spiralling homelessness and poverty mean that the numbers of children on the street are growing every day. Yet hardly any organisations are working on the issue. The Azad Foundation (AF) provides runaway children with counselling and recreational facilities, while Dastak ± a joint AF and European Commission and Group Development (ECGD) venture ± provides vocational training, informal education and rehabilitation services. The organisation plans to establish a shelter with the support of the ECGD and the City District Government Karachi. However, as long as the issues that cause children to run away in the first place remain unaddressed, shelters can only a be, at best, a short-term solution.
Number of street kids rises in City
KARACHI - The number of street children is increasing alarmingly due to the sheer negligence
of the authorities concerned, while the figure of these children across the country has reached to 1.2 million out of which 30,000 homeless children are in Karachi, The Nation learnt on Monday. Around 43 per cent among the total population are under 15 years of age, including approximate 48 million adults living under the poverty line earning less than one dollar a day. The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) figured out population boom, urbanisation and poverty - vital causes for the increase in number of the street children in Pakistan. Nonimplementation of child security laws is also to blame. Among other reasons are widespread child labour and poor quality of education, which let the children to come out on streets to share their family¶s financial burden, however, abusive environment at homes and corporal punishment in schools add to their miseries. In some cases bad company and desire for unrestricted freedom prompt them to leave homes in rural areas and low-income localities of our cities, especially in southern Punjab and parts of NWFP. According to the facts, the City District Government Karachi has produced that in Karachi alone the number of street children has crossed the figure of 25,000. Children on the streets are susceptible to all kinds of violence and easy prey for all types of abusers. Being young, poor, illiterate and defenceless, children are abused and exploited, sexually, verbally, emotionally and psychologically. Violence could range anything between harassment to pedophilia, sexual abuse and sodomy, coerced to join gangs of criminals and used as drug traffickers or turned into beggars by the beggars¶ mafia. The police are also among the leading enemies of street children, as indiscriminate violations against children are committed with impunity because of no fear of reprisal from the law and the society. Street children have nowhere to turn for protection, emotional support and comradeship except the members of their own band in which often a bully (who himself could be a victim of physical and sexual abuse) treats the young or weaker ones as once he was treated as a child. Some limited surveys and interviews conducted by various NGOs show that an alarming 80 to
90 per cent of the street children are victims of sodomy, sexual and physical abuse not just by elders but older children within their own gangs. A majority of them is drug addicted, and the most popular and affordable of the drug is glue what these children inhale by putting it on a piece of cloth. One can see young boys sniffing this glue openly on the streets and pavements that according to one user, tingles nose and makes one slightly drowsy. The use of other drugs including hashish, and even heroin is also rampant among of these streets children. Children living on the street, start work as early as 4.00am, they beg and scavenge around rubbish dumps or industrial waste sites and take on menial jobs as cart-pushers or dishwashers working 12-15 hours a day to earn enough to buy a meal, if they are lucky. Most survive by prostituting themselves and stealing, making them vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD)¶s such as HIV and AIDS. They are also at high risk of health problems such as tuberculosis, jaundice and kidney disorders. A study by the Pakistan Society estimates that when the population was 10,000 in Karachi 83 per cent of street children were sniffing glue between the ages of 8-19. 54 per cent left home at age 10-12. 45 per cent children living on streets are involved in crimes and 49 per cent are at high risk of HIV and AIDS. Be it economic or social factors, street children leave their homes for an uncertain future. They have no access to basic amenities such as health, education, or food. In the back alleys of Karachi¶s bustling areas, the stench of urine pervading the whole place, children as young as five huddle in groups of 8 to 10 for warmth and security at night.
Some of our children live under very poor conditions. They live in the street, they prostitute to earn money to survive, they are abused by the others, they have no families or friends. They have no water or food and nobody cares about them. There are families which pass through very difficult situations, haven’t got a house or a job
and they can’t afford to raise their children, so they send them in the street to beg. Children in some families haven’t got the right to have friends, to go to school, they are not allowed to use the telephone or go outside alone. More than that they are punished or cruelly beaten for the smallest offence. They grow up to hate their parents, the government, the laws, everything and everyone. They become depressed because of this difficult social situation. Let’s do something! Let’s try to find solutions for all these kinds of situations. Imagine that the child you see begging in the street is yours. Do something to help him! Take him at home with you, offer him a shelter, find some responsible parents for him! We can donate a small sum of money for their survival. The government will build shelters for the street children, hospitals where the number of street children is very big. We also have in plan to build schools and to create these children the opportunity to learn and to integrate into the society, to learn a trade and to be useful for everybody one day. There will also be some institutions to deal with finding families for these children. They deserve the same rights as everybody in the world! Let’s not just ignore them, let’s do something for them! If we are united and willing we can do something to improve their lives! Zig Ziglar Kids go where there is excitement. They stay where there is love. Youth is the trustee of prosperity. Author: Benjamin Disraeli