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Street kids in Africa
During the current existing credit crunch, it is easy for us to forget about the vast amount of people in the world, who are more needy than ourselves. We're all taken up, and rightly so, with providing for our children and doing the best we can to save money in order to brace ourselves for the existing and potential economic free fall.
However, how are the people in poorer parts of the world - who've started with nothing coping? Are they providing for their children, or are they left to live in the street?
While the occurrence of street children is not a new phenomenon, the downturn of the world's finances can leave many of them in a worse state than they already are.
Who are the street children
Street kids in Saigon
Far from our world of comfort and luxury, 100 to 150 millions children carry out their daily lives in the open streets. These children tend have been totally or partially abandoned by their parents and other protective adults, and scrape around for food and other necessities for themselves. They take shelter either in the streets themselves, or in abandoned buildings, containers or vehicles.
Many street children (who are mainly under 12, and as young as 4) have no adult supervision or care. A small number of them go home at the end of the day and contribute their 'takings' to their family's upkeep, but the vast number of street children live permanently on the streets on their own, and are invariably subject to abuse and exploitation - and in extreme cases - even murder.
While the majority of street kids are in found in developing countries, many are found in rich states like Germany (10,000) and the USA (up to 1 million). I've personally seen street children in New Orleans.
How did they get there
Street kids in Iraq
Many of the children live on the streets due to violence in the home. They seek to escape this torment, but once they get on the streets, it becomes difficult, and sometimes impossible to reintegrate them with their families.
This is not the only cause though, many of them come from poor families in underdeveloped countries, where the only way of surviving is to live in the streets and beg for a living.
In families with tenuous ties with responsible adults, children are abandoned and left to fend for themselves. This can result from desperate families having too many mouths to feed, or (as in the case of some parts of Africa) children being left parentless due to Aids.
What will become of them
Street kids in Cuba
It differs in various parts of the world, but in Brazil for instance, most of these kids expect to be killed before they are 18. Conservatively speaking, about 2 street kids in Brazil are killed daily. Every day we when wake up in our beds, there are more than 2 million street kids in Africa, 11 million in India, and 8 million in Brazil, waking up to traffic in the street and no plans for breakfast.
Is there help
Street kids in Brazil
The Consortium for Street Children has set out in their mission statement, their dedication to improving the lives of these children, not only by creating organisations dedicated to their rights, but also to making grants available to them, and raising public awareness to their plight.
While there is help, there is much more to be done.
So while we tighten our belts for the next few years due to the credit crunch, let us spare a thought for the kids living and working in the streets of our nations. Let us remember that (compared to them) we are wealthy, and have everything we want and most of what we need.
Let us help them when we can, because while we have to give up on some of our luxuries, and buy one less pair of shoes, there are little kids, younger than our own, who have to fight even for the piece of concrete on which they lay their weary heads.
About the Author
Anne Lyken-Garner is a contributing writer for Fabulously40 Youth Project Worker, Writer, Television Support Actress, Occasional model
Visit Anne's blogspot for more of her work.
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