The Forgotten Children

By Onome Erharhaghen

The first time I encountered them was when I was in secondary school, I was walking to church, I think, someone held my hand and was muttering something incoherent to me, I looked down and saw a girl, she was obviously not Nigerian, she was quite beautiful, and she was begging me for money.

Overtime I’ve come to know that beggars(children) are everywhere in Nigeria. There are the foreign ones; they are usually from Niger Republic. Then there are two kinds of the Nigerian children beggars, one kind features perfectly healthy kids who accost you on your way to wherever and say things like “Aunty, I never chop since morning o. Abeg gimme ₦20 Na.” or “Uncle, I wan drink water,” I usually wonder where their parents are and how come their kids are roaming the streets begging alms for the day. The other kind of beggars are disabled children.

You should see them on streets in Lagos State; I wonder what could have caused such acute disabilities in young kids. Disease? Malnutrition? I imagine if science has the answer to that.

I wonder how it led to this, how it came to be that innocent children are subject to the scourge of society, either believing that they don’t have a choice than to beg or actually not having a choice but to beg; ILLITERACY and NEGLIGENCE. The worst part of this is that they are homeless. They sleep and dream and have conferences with the indigenes of the elusive world.

The cycle of both has brought them to this point, illiteracy of their parents (who probably also had illiterate parents thus the cycle) caused by themselves. We blame lack of opportunities to go to school, or opportunities to be successful, that’s just rubbish, in this age illiteracy is by choice, we have loads of people who “didn’t get to go school” being successful, opportunities to be successful isn’t given in some school or anywhere else, it’s taken or built by your willingness to change your situation and the actions you take.

Illiteracy in the sense that, not knowing better what great potential lie in them, they come to the conclusion that the only way to remain alive is to out ourselves at the mercy of others, and these children now believe the same; HEARTBREAKING
Negligence by us all, we failed them, some will blame the government, and ask why there is no provision for these kids, no shelter, or orphanage for them to be kept, taken care of, and taught of the better things in life that they can pursue.

But answer these:
Who is the government?

Us the people, after all this is democracy ( and don’t gimme the ideology of how unheard our Voices are)

Who becomes the government?

Me and you. We have stopped seeing these kids as innocent human beings, but as little thieves (which mosttimes they are, due to what they’ve learnt from society), cursed beings.
Abandoned by their own parents and draw no compassion from you, our perspective has changed, we now perceive them no more than dirt littering the roads, as used to potholes and inconsistent power supply, so have we these kids.

We have in two words;

FORGOTTEN THEM.

What a shameful society we are.
It’s of little wonder why this generation is like this, riddled with thieves and thieving and oppressive governments, nothing works anymore, we just exist, seemingly without a future, and let’s not forget reaping what we sow, how will there be a future, when we have forgotten our futures, the children.

Let’s learn to be better,give what you can, not too large or you’ll reinforce their beliefs that they have to beg, take time out of your busy schedule and lifestyle and engage them, talk to them teach them, let them know that there is more to life, if one can get their parents, get to them, and also engage them, tell them what they can do, to change their position in life (a business idea, and possibly small funds to start, or at least let them know how to save towards it), teach them consistency, failures and how they should drive and push towards it. You find they’re comfortable where they are and the state of things, wanting nothing more but to beg, tickle their greed, God knows we all are greedy, and let them know how far they can truly go if they want.

All these sound stressful and bordering, after all you’re not responsible for them, but you are, if we truly want things to change, we have to REMEMBER OUR CHILDREN, the future of us all.

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