A Breadcrumb a Day to Keep the Hunger Away

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On every street corner, they are everywhere – remorseful, uncertain and scavenging for every bit of food or shelter they can find, just to keep the hunger pangs away or to rest their tired bodies. Living each day to the fullest, as there is no other way, street children’s days are filled with anxiety, determination and hope, for they alone are responsible for how they are going to make it through the day and to survive, for they are their own breadwinners, comforters and reason for living. Lives led by these children might seem easy-going in the sense that all they do is beg and that they live off the food money other working people make and therefore have no need to get up from where they are and make a change for the better. Ragged, dirty clothes and faces so mournful that can make a grown man cry, they, despite appearances and conditions come up to people. With a rugged and strong confidence they ask for assistance in any way, for it takes a person with guts and determination to look someone, a stranger, in the eye and beg. Disturbingly, some of these street children turn to violence and crime. Pickpocketing, catching individuals unawares, using violence in some cases to get anything they can grab, and then run – leading to individuals believing that all children of the streets are no good and mischievous. Running away from home, when times are tough, might seem like the only and best solution. Escaping from reality and living the open “free” life. For some this is a better option than living in torment, whilst for others the shock and realization of having to take life’s harshness head-on is too much to handle. For they are only human and, in trying to deal with situations, they engage themselves in unlawful acts, even selling their souls, to escape – if only for a while – into a world where they are lord and master. Only to come to the rude awakening that where they are is but a bottomless pit with no light at the top. Not all were what they are today. But life, they feel, has handed them the short end of the stick and thrown them out like a piece of garbage. Creative as they are – for they are entrepreneurs in their own right – it is sad to see talent which could have been worked on to excel and evolve them as part of a recognized group in society. For survival of the fittest has become their norm. The ever-alarming, growing number of street children has led to their having to become creative in ensuring that people won’t pass them by without giving whatever they have to satisfy their daily needs, however big or small the contribution. Not all are lucky to find safe havens to rest their tired and weary heads, so when night falls they can be seen carrying around pieces of material, erecting it into makeshift homes at sought-out locations to sleep for the night. Bridges, buildings, in fact any place where there is warmth, are some of the common places where they can be found, huddled together or by their lonesome selves. Dangerous and open to attacks of any kind, this is where the men are separated from the mice; kids as young as six need to defend themselves from those who are only out there to do no good. This is where thoughts of helplessness, fear and courage take centre stage in every street child’s mind. As we are all children of God, we are blessed with a power of will: they just need to dig deeper for theirs to surface, for all their power and strength come from their strong will to live in the hope for better days to come. In Afrikaans there is a saying that goes: ‘kinders van die wind’ – children of the wind. For they are like leaves on a windy days, caught up by the wind and blown to where it will eventually put them down; going with the flow in whichever direction it takes their lives. Feeling a sense of comfort in their situation might also inhibit them from ways and means to work their way up into acceptable society, leading to them being capable of doing labour, these street children waste away, not ever knowing how their contribution to society could have changed the world surrounding them. What does tomorrow hold for these children? A better future, hopefully? They say ‘you are never too good to become bad and never too bad to become good’. They are who we might be tomorrow. Brumelda English