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Echoes of the Forgotten Future Generation

Children from Somalia residing in the historic District of Balad Courtesy : Eric http://www.ericlafforgue.com/

I desired to touch the sky, hear the unseen, feel a stone, and smell a sound… I was an ordinary child, with odd dreams. My mind used to be preoccupied with thoughts of growing a rainbow colored wing that didn’t fly…

Having basic care and protection, I was able to nourish my imagination and aspired to dream.

“I want to earn more than $5 a day and care for my 7member family,” said a young boy with a heavy sigh, pursing his lips in thought. Mohammad is a ten year old with unkempt, lightly oiled brown hair and deep green eyes who likes chew gum more than selling it.

He was born and raised in the historic district of "Balad" in the cosmopolitan city of Jeddah home to 3.4 million people - the same district where I grew up. The district has a unique blend of history,architecture, poverty, richness of culture and has been a favorite destination for tourists and diplomats.

Sitting right beside my window I saw the former British Prime Minister John Major touring the area years back.

To satisfy my curiosity about why a prime minister would tour an area right in front of my window I attempted reading newspapers, watched the news and started to be intrigued by the historical and architectural significance of my area. Little did I know not every child growing up in the same area did not have the privilege of imagining, asking, looking- up information, thinking or even the time to be curious.

Mohammad sells chewing gum with his buddy, a much younger child –from afternoon to evening, daily.
Both share a deep friendship often seen among adults, a passionate bond of trust and love.

He is the youngest among his siblings, his father works in a shop selling blankets. He has two sisters at home who can read/write and help with household chores. He lives with his 7 member family in two rooms and the entire family relies on his father’s earnings which are not sufficient to cover day-to-day expenses.

His family came from Afghanistan years ago - as refugees, legally/illegally or trafficked, he could not disclose. He made sure he didn’t answer the question; he kept on saying he has an ‘iqama’ (residence permit) with a pretentious face.

“I learned to read and write at home; my parents taught me basic alphabet and counting”, he says. I couldn’t help but notice how vigilantly he counts money.

I asked if I could take a picture of him – ‘Oh no! What if you give it to Jawazat!? (Immigration office)” he asks with an inquisitive smile.

He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to sell chewing gum tomorrow,he does not know which country he will be in 5 days time, he doesn’t know if he has a future in this land. But he knows that he doesn’t want to go back to his own country because his father said there’s a war - he knows that he can’t get caught by officials, he knows that he can’t go to school. He feels he is destined to sell chewing gum.

Mohammad exemplifies a typical definition of “street children” in Saudi Arabia. According to the last comprehensive study done 4 yrs back by the King Fahd Security College, there are around 80,000+ street children across Saudi Arabia, the average age being 7 years old. These “street children” are not literally homeless but spend much of the time on street, begging or as street vendors.

The numbers have gone dramatically down in recent years due to intense government crackdown and awareness. But similar to solving most issues in Saudi Arabia, taking two steps forward and simultaneously one step back – in this issue we have taken one step forward and are still standing there.

To understand the multi-faceted factors involved in the life of street children, it’s imperative to explore the issue in the paradigm of trafficking, child labour, child sexual exploitation, illegal/legal migration, religion, refugees and local sponsorship system. Government officials estimated around 24,000 children involved in street selling and begging were trafficked into Saudi Arabia from 18 countries. (UNICEF)

Saudi Arabia is home to nearly 7m migrant workers. Most visas do not permit bringing families inside the country. A few migrant workers use Hajj/umrah visas to bring their children and wives. Family dependents lose legal status when their visas inevitably expire. Existing children or children born in Saudi Arabia without legal residence status do not have access to birth registration, private or public schooling or access to public health services.

Mohammad is a lucky child for not being encouraged to beg by his family - unlike many families urging their children to beg or renting them out to adults as beggars to organized groups. This exposes children to trafficking networkers for the use of labour and sexual exploitation.Begging individually often leads to being tracked down by authorities and most likely deported if found non-native. As a result some undertake the risk of ‘enrolling’ kids with organized trafficking
groups that have connections with local law and enforcement. This “connection” may not be explicit but just “overlooking” them.

2.5m Muslims visit Saudi Arabia every year for the purpose of pilgrimage and thousands more visit for lesser pilgrimage
throughout the year. In the religious context, begging is discouraged in Islam and Muslims are encouraged to give only to ‘legitimate’ beggars (e.g. disabled or children in poverty). However, Muslims are encouraged to give to poor and discouraged from repulsing beggars. Availing easy requirement for Hajj/Umrah visas, traffickers often target these religious seasons to traffic children into the country or recruit from within.

Charity is recommended in the Arabic month of Ramadan – this month transforms cities into a heaven for child beggars and child street vendors. Although rarely seen among children, traffickers often bring in disabled adults from various countries to ‘employ’ them in begging, exploiting public sympathies.

A doctoral study submitted at Naif Arab Univ. (2009) reached a conclusion that Jeddah may be a hub for an international child trafficking networks, groups exploiting Umrah Visas. Jeddah’s close geographic proximity to religious sites and its cosmopolitan nature makes it a ‘transit’ city for many pilgrims.

I caught up with Ihtisham, a school teacher who lives in an area with many street children from different communities.

“You can see children roaming in the street night and day. They don’t go to school and they play, beg or rely on handouts from people,” she says. “Unable to find work, steady work, sometimes the father stays at home. The mothers work as house helpers and the children are out on the street the entire day, often mixing with the wrong crowd”

Ahmed, 12, sells water alongside traffic lights during the day. He was born in Saudi Arabia and his family originally comes from Yemen. He cannot afford school fees and he earns $5-10 per day by selling bottled water. He lives with 7member family in a flood damaged house. He says his country is Yemen although he doesn’t know what it’s like but his father wants to return and so he wishes the same.

The border region of Tawal hosts the largest official border between Saudi and Yemen. According to a border guard, at least “one infiltrator is arrested every five minutes", in the border region.

Although Fewer Yemeni children were trafficked to Saudi Arabia in 2009 than in recent years, Yemen remains a transit and a destination country for traffickers. The recent unrest in Yemen also poses a danger of increase in trafficking numbers.

Akram, 13, has been living with his family for ten years. He sometimes works at a car workshop to supplement his father’s income, earning $10 a day. “I would love to go to school, but private school is so expensive,” says Akram. His family wants to go back to Pakistan, but he says his father has ”Sponsor issues"

With all the beggars, vendors or child workers I have spoken with, almost no-one felt comfortable sharing how they or their families came here. Only one revealed how they avoid authorities by becoming a “part of a group”.

UNICEF estimates a child beggar can potentially earn US$250 a day depending on the “season”.

My encounter with 3-4 children beggars this month revealed a similar (off season) figure ranging from $150-200 per day by each child. A very high figure in comparison to children selling water or chewing gum – explicating why begging is an attractive business as opposed to trading/working.

Saudi Arabia is categorized in Tier 3 of “trafficking in person report 2010”released by the US state dept. It is a destination country for trafficking. Tiers 3s are “countries whose governments do not fully comply with minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”

It is important to see the intrinsic link between child trafficking and child beggars, even the first report published on this issue by UNICEF combined the two tittles. Although it’s common to see more boys than girls - young girls join their mothers to beg or sell on traffic lights along with other children. These girls expose themselves to high risk of sexual exploitation, given that all the drivers in the street are males.

“A small number of foreign adolescent girls who are seen soliciting at traffic lights and by the roads are reported to be using beggary as a cover for prostitution on behalf of their families or of traffickers.”(UNICEF)

The Ministry of Social Affairs frequently publishes reports on arrested beggars. The latest report includes 760 citizen children, including girls. The reasons behind citizens begging are different from non-nationals but poverty does not discriminate among nationalities. Divorced and widowed women with no mahram(male guardian) face severe discrimination, social, legal, economic . Lack of employment opportunities for women is another factor; some are women and girls with special needs.

Fatima, 10, is a daughter of a widow who begs with her mother. Her mother’s says her relatives have abandoned her. “I am a Saudi women and I beg to feed my children,” she expressed forlornly.

The Ministry of Social Affairs has set up a sub ministry for “combating beggary”. If a beggar caught is native, she/he is sent to a welfare shelter for assistance. If found non-native, all the details are registered and investigated to see if he/she has legal residency. If a legal resident, the family of the child can pay a fine. The child can be released, unless arrested thrice in which case they are deported. If a child is found illegal she/he is deported within a few days or weeks.

The government works with NGOs to create residential centers for children awaiting deportation. The immigration office works with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth which operates in several countries where the children originally come from. Creation of these shelters is a major breakthrough since children were previously kept in shelters with adults. Although there is no indication of lack of physical care provided at the shelter, but UNICEF and human rights org. have urged the shelters to provide critical legal assistance and more attention to psychological well-being.

There are laws to combat trafficking and more recently more penalties include up to US$ 266,652 fine and 15 yrs in jail, including harsher penalties for trafficking in women, children or the disabled. But prosecutions of traffickers or similar exploiters foreign children are rare and authorities reportedly deport children to countries where they are at risk of recruitment as child soldiers and trafficking. 150 Somali refugees were deported last year including children from Jeddah.

Ibrahim M, the founder of the “Human Rights First Society” unequivocally endorses his organization’s report that the government violates its own laws. Violations occur through the way the laws are written or not written. If only the official legislation that does protects basic rights were practiced in real life. Saudi Arabia’s basic law of governance says, “The state shall protest human rights in accordance with "Islamic law"

UNHCR sponsored a book in 2009 to highlight the influence of Islam and pre-Islam tradition on international refugee law. The study reveals how tradition respects refugees, including non-Muslims; forbids forcing them to change their beliefs; avoids compromising their rights; seeks to reunite families; and guarantees the protection of their lives and property. The UNHCR commissioner Guterres writes "Even though many of those values were a part of Arab tradition and culture even before Islam, this fact is not always acknowledged today, even in the Arab world."

The official approach is to stop begging but not to ensure beggars don’t beg anymore. There’s a general public apathy towards beggars, though not begging.

Although people are aware that by giving on street or buying from street vendor will only perpetuate the number – they “give” in this way because it’s the most accessible way. NGOs need to ensure making “giving” easy so that people know that there’s an alternative. NGOs that shelter these children must show how individual money makes a difference – it’s about being transparent to people and not only to international organizations or local government. NGOs can easily develop schooling programs at least for 3 hrs a day. It’s not about money; it’s about the will to do more! A lot of children speaks fluent Arabic and can write their name.

Our thoughts and insights are limited by our own life experience –we cannot possibly solve an issue looking down from a skyscraper. The way cities are build only serves to exclude a significant population from mainstream life. The middle-classes and the upper-classes only see child beggars when they beg on their side or child vendors when they sell on their side, only igniting sympathy and furthering apathy.

What is common between these street children and well-nurtured children is that young boys on both edges of the city are encouraged to be men from 5+ yrs. There’s a lack of concern for boys spending too much time on streets or not going to school – it’s not uncommon to see under-age boys driving. Street children are taught to bring money home – these children understand the importance of money more than anything else,

Young boys are children, not men and what these children need is empathy, not momentary sympathy or material generosity. The way we learn about deprived children is when an appeal is launched for money with faces of desperate, crying children.

We need a holistic approach based on increased partnerships with NGOs, with people, and with governments across borders. A photo essay project I have initiated along with a print magazine and a non-profit primarily aims to “humanize” these children. It’s a learning project for college- going upper class students to learn about lives on the other side of their cities. There are guidelines to ensure pictures speaks about the details of daily lives in a way that induces interest and builds understanding, pictures that ignite empathy as opposed to sympathy. That’s a crucial first step in my journey!

Let’s not fail to hear the silent voices, not forget that today’s children are tomorrow’s youth.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

Potter's picture

You have done it!

This is a wonderful achievement. Despite frustrations and setbacks you have prevailed. You are a mighty champion for these children. Thanks to you, the world knows their stories and struggles. There are too many children just like them around the globe. You speak for all of them and your voice is crystal clear. Thank you!

P.S.
Nice approach to footnotes!

I admire you for taking on this issue -- it is so complex and has so many layers, as you detail here -- and it will only take holistic solutions to turn things around -- as you say here. I congratulate you on a story well done, well researched -- and I am struck by how you re-entered your own neighborhood with new eyes to see past surface anonymity and reach down for the deeper story. And what stories! I wish we all could hoist stars into the night sky and whisper into those children's ears that it is okay to wish upon a star and that, with proper support and nurturance, they can have the comfort of knowing their dream will come true. To have a dream is everything -- when children are denied the ability to dream, a culture can't move forward. Your story brings their conditions up from the streets and now onto the boulevard of the internet. I hope this story travels far and wide and that as the future unfolds, progress may be writ large in the smiles on their faces and upon ours, too.

Congratulations to an amazing journalist. Beyond amazing :)

Maura Conlon-McIvor, Ph.D
author, founder and social change psychologist
legacybeyondborders.com
celebrate life/tell your story/live your heart's legacy
mauraconlon.com

Farona's picture

Maura Your comments are much

Maura

Your comments are much better than my piece ! your appreciation is humbling and encouraging ;- ) To have a dream is indeed everything, I cannot imagine not going having access to basic education in my childhood - imagine if only those kids could write their stories with their own pen, rather than I writing about them. Everyone should have a chance to write their own stories!

As long as there's a child without access to basic necessities in life - our fight should go on, my fight will go on. It's really an important time for us to re-structure the way we recognize and identify with each other. Apathy is not an option ! a catastrophic alternative.

My appreciation to an amazing mentor ;- ) beyond amazing !

Cara Lopez Lee's picture

Important Information

Thank you for so insightfully showing us the self-perpetuating conundrum created when unacknowledged child refugees must resort to begging. Educating these children and acknowledging them as legitimate members of this planet who deserve a future: this is what's needed to turn such problems around, as you so gracefully explain. So, the question is, who has the political will to clarify the high price the world will ultimately pay if we allow these kids (who exist on every continent) to grow up as un-people, and who has the guts to take the steps to prevent that?

Farona's picture

Intriguing questions !

Cara, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I agree with you.

These children are creative and brave, Cara , just like any other – as societies we have much less to lose by educating and integrating them, but we consciously choose to lose more by pushing them aside and caging them into small communities where we don’t have to deal with them on daily basis. Children learn and perfect anything we teach them.
From learning techniques to sports but also shooting guns to begging to selling. As adult members of our societies, it’s up to us to ensure they don’t become child soldiers or beggars. Because they would end up being perfect in the tasks.

These are children of refugee families, trafficked children or children of illegal migrants. But they can also be children of legal migrant families as well. Akram ( a boy mentioned in the piece )’s family have disputes with his local sponsor although they legally came here. The local sponsorship system very much sounds like a slavery system in the modern world, where employee’s fate is tied to the employer’s goodwill toward the employee. His father’s sponsor threat to declare his father as ‘huroob’ or runway employee if he doesn’t pay him the amount he wishes, in which case he can banned and deported from the country and other GCC countries alike. Local sponsorship system is a big business for many locals.

Political will is important, but as we are all aware that politicians only ‘will’ when civil societies, NGO’s and ordinary people take the first step. That’s where the role of us as young women comes in. Public diplomacy can also play a good role in educating ordinary people, my country’s relation with other countries are based on oil deals or aid and less people-to-people interaction. Despite having so many communities from so many countries here , communities are divorced from each other. One community has no idea about the issues faced by another community.

We identify children of these families as ‘refugee kids’ ‘migrant kids’ or ‘poor kids’ – we reduce their lives to simple words. This is an area where countries can work together. This is an area where countries MUST work together; we cannot afford to choose the alternative of passing the buck to the next generation and go about with our regular lives.
I admire your understanding of the issue, yes the high price we will all pay if we don’t take any step in this decade. And that’s why I am more passionate about educating civil societies and civil servants about ‘the price we’ll be paying’ if we don’t act. Understanding information and the role of information is really important for us.

Potter's picture

Full Circle!

Your response to Cara is an expert summary bringing together your essential points from two of your articles; about the sponsorship system and the plight of exploited children. It is interesting to see your choice of topics, your research and your understanding of complex and related issues come full circle. Identifying the responsibillity of civil society to both raise and address critical issues is spot on

Maura Conlon's picture

An Excellent Synthesis

I agree with Jana -- your stories culminate to very strong points about taking responsibility for the next generation from the bottom up.

When I was in East Africa with World Pulse, this is one of the lessons we learned from The GreenBelt Movement in Nairobi: empower people from the bottom up and then government has no choice but to respond (because the people have been awakened to their futures!) It is a both/and progression rather than either/or. Power is on both sides and can be used for social transformation.

Great journalistic and humanitarian seeds planted here!

Maura Conlon-McIvor, Ph.D
author, founder and social change psychologist
legacybeyondborders.com
celebrate life/tell your story/live your heart's legacy
mauraconlon.com

nilima's picture

So nice to see your final

So nice to see your final work here dear!!! I am so much happy for you and congratulations for bringing this important issues in beautiful way!!

Farona's picture

Thank you Nilima !!! <3 the

Thank you Nilima !!! <3 the issue is really close to my heart and I am glad I am able to write it as my final piece.
I was short of time and couldn't post the draft ;-) and I can't wait to read yours

Congratulations to you to sis. I have enjoyed reading your pieces a lot !

Much Love

rmweaver's picture

Congratulations, Farona!

What an inspring and compelling piece you have written. I felt as if I was sitting with you on the street, talking with Mohammad. You told the story of a large and complex issue in a very personal way, which is so compelling to the reader. It is also clear that you did a lot of research as well, which gives even more weight to your arguments.

Thank you so much for your story. Congratulations on completing an amazing journey through Voices of Our Future!

All the best,
rmweaver

Farona's picture

Thank you so much Rmweaver ;-

Thank you so much Rmweaver ;- ) I am really flattered !

My purpose was to bring these stories to light since they can't and perhaps won't get an opportunity to write their own stories if we don't act. The boy Mohammad really stood out for me, at such a young age he has more passion to change the world around him than boys aged 16. He's quite a character ;- )

I appreciate your thoughts ! VOF has been quite a journey !

BarbaraLH's picture

Great post

You did a wonderful job describing both the complex issues and the personal stories of those effected.
I also liked reading about your photo essay project and print magazine and hope to find links to those when they are available.

Farona's picture

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Barbara ;-)

I would love to post the links of my project - It's difficult conducting photo essay projects in my country, more difficult when it involves refugees or illegal migrants or anyone living below the poverty line. But there are also many gray areas which I can tap into to make this happen. Students are really excited to engage in something they have never done and learn about something they hardly understand. So I am pretty excited. While writing this piece, I realized writing about children is perhaps the most difficult one!

Dear Farona!

This story is so touching! So life in Saudi Arabia to the migrants workers is that tight, i never knew that. Anyway thanks Farona for revealing this vivid truth.You have brought something to my attention : these children , where are their parents, why would they roam around at night, where are their mothers, why? why would they face this fate at an early age, oh no! The reason why we in Botswana we have orphanage centres and Needs child organisations is to address and combat these issues.If at all children were housed, such as those street children being hunted, taken care of, dressed, fed and taken to school, Farona do you think we could be reporting on Children on the streets.My dear sister this world is so hursh, it needs strong people who have strong hearts for Children like these ones who dwell in the streets.Ok then if these children are not literally homeless what makes them in the streets. i like the fact that the numbers have gone dramatically down in recent years due to intense government crackdown and awareness.
But once they throw themselves in the streets like that automaticaly they become valnerable to all odds such as trafficking, child labour, child sexual exploitation, illegal/legal migration, religion and other manupulations .

Farona, i like it during the Arabic month of Ramadan – in this month whereby child beggars and child street vendors are helped and met with their needs.We cannot be simple with this situation, children are innocent and most of the time they rely on the parents on any support and once you ignore them and offer them as beggars it hurts the most, and above all it hurts the supreme God who created them.If people can fail their children and be forced by situations and circumstances to do such forbidden things its so painful and so hurting, we all need love.Lets create centers for addressing these issues .

Thank you so much Farona.Am hurt though by hearing all this, it has touched my heart so much.

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Farona's picture

Children Welfare

Sis
What a beautiful comment you left, you and I share the same concerns. There are centers but not exclusive to handle these type of children, ensuring them an education is not considered at all.

My concerns is when parents themselves resort to the worst ! -- more awareness should be directed towards parents of these kids. And yes, as you mentioned so wisely ! once they are on the street they automatically expose themselves to many vulnerable situation.

A small young girl once came to a friend of mine who was sitting in a fast food restaurant. The little girl was selling towels, she came to her to sell one, but my friend didn't need it. But later she felt bad about the girl, her face was so cute and she was really adorable - so my friend bought her a meal. She walked out to look for her and saw a men pulled her inside a car! -- My friend was so shocked, she dropped the meal and started to run behind the car and knocked on the driver window. The driver told her to mind her own business and threaten to drive the car away but she persisted ! Before the driver locked the car door she managed to open the door and pull the kid out. There were two cars parked near the incident and people inside those cars including women were laughing my friend . Because she 'ran in the street' !!!

My friend later asked the girl why she went inside ? she said ' the man told me he would buy me towels if I get in'...

Just imagine !!!

Maura Conlon's picture

This story is a laser beam to

This story is a laser beam to the heart -- the girl with the towels -- Please continue to share this story -- It will have ripple effects --- Keep on!!!! xo

Maura Conlon-McIvor, Ph.D
author, founder and social change psychologist
legacybeyondborders.com
celebrate life/tell your story/live your heart's legacy
mauraconlon.com

Amei's picture

Wonderfull Amazing!

I read and re-read beautifully written. Complexities of life are our challenge. So much emotion is going on it is hard to find words. I feel the pain and yet your courage gives me hope.

You are a wonderful writer and I am proud to have met you here.

Allah blesses you, keep you strong and brave.

With love
Amei

Farona's picture

Touched !

Amei

My dearest sis! It’s quite a privilege to have you re-read this piece, I am lost of words. I wrote with passion and love and if one of my fellow sis feels the same passion, it’s truly a rewarding feeling. Your words give more courage.

Same to you sis! May Lord Bless you with each of His blessings

Much Love

warona's picture

Its gonna be okay Farona

Dear Farona!

In due course as the years passes by.As you have your most valuable time to pour out your unknown heart felt situation i believe the issue will be addressed.It would be worse if you kept quite.i Believe every problem has its own expiry date.Just like diseases that afflict our nations, as we fight them, combat them, face all the challenges, even risky ones, trauma and all, Farona my dear sister i want to tell you that i embark on you, i trust you are the right candidate to help these innocent children.Am so touched by the girl who was selling towels.You can imagine if it was your child or your sister.Children have the right to living decent lives as well.We need to stand for our communities and talk on their behave.So many disadvantaged children are crushed by the situations they encounter now,robbing them the right to freedom of life.But once we stand together i tell you, poor children will be liberated from this tourture.By so doing we will be preparing even for young generations to come.They will not suffer this fate.ARISE FARONA YOU ARE A LEADER.TAKE HEART AND MAY GOD HELP YOU TO OVERCOME THOSE SITUATIONS.

I cry with you sister, take heart.

Your Sister

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Insha Allah's picture

solution oriented

Dear sister Farona,

What a great feature story! You blend heartbreaking real stories from the grounds with very supportive facts and figures. Your deep empathy on the issue and how you worked hard for this piece is vividly evident.

Your story haunts me recalling the life of street children in my country. I had a short volunteer experience working with street children in Yangon and I strongly agree with you in the point that cultural practice and lack of enough law enforcement in public and political sphere won't decrease the problems. Two years ago, I had a chance to travel neighboring Thailand where many of the street people and beggars I found are Burmeses. I wonder who cares them although many of our rich people go there for shopping, relaxation and studying.

I'm very proud of you for your empathetic attitude, what you are doing to overcome the barriers in your community and solution oriented outlook.

In admiration,
Insha Allah

Shwe Wutt Hmon

Farona's picture

Woah loved your thoughts sis

Woah loved your thoughts sis

Isn't it strange to see children begging and shoppers at the same site ! We need to radically change the way we build cities. Public space should be built in a way that minimizes inequality, not perpetuate.

Better enforcement of laws in required for traffickers, but at the end it's up to us as members of community to initiate first.

Proud of you too sis!

Your feature story captured my soul. It took me to a land I have read about and yet never thought such could exist. You have demostrated to me the importance of using our voices to tell of challenges we face in our countries. its amazing how you go deep into details comparing him to child beggars graphically displaying his suffering in his life. He might not make a lot of money selling chewing gums as opposed to the children who beg on the street. what's really important is that he is an amazing child who deserves an opportunity to reach his full pontential. Your country is lucky to have you and I can'y wait to read more from you. This is just the beginning....

Rudzanimbilu Muthambi

Farona's picture

Rudzanimbilu sis ;- ) Thank

Rudzanimbilu sis ;- )

Thank you so much for leaving such heart-warming thoughts. I am sufficiently flattered !

I wasn’t quite physically well while doing this feature and talking to these marginalized children was quite overwhelming. I couldn’t sleep well for nights -- if only people in charge and ordinary people could listen to what they have to say for minutes, with an unbiased mind.

The child knows he earns less by selling as opposed to begging, but he also knows the importance of earning in a dignified way.

Meeting these children was an opportunity to cherish the ‘voice’ we all have.

My best wishes ;- )

Farona's picture

Ah mistakenly posted !

Ah mistakenly posted !

Ruun Abdi's picture

Dearest Farona, Thank you so

Dearest Farona,

Thank you so much for choosing and sharing such an informative topic. I really enjoyed reading it and it really took my breath for a while as I was reading. I have witnessed many young children who are beggars here in Puntland. Most of them have migrated from the South central zones of the country (Somalia). Some of these children have lost their parents and don’t have care takers while others either parents can’t afford their wellbeing and they force them to drop from school and go begging in the streets to earn money for the family's sustainability. Some of these children are Somali natives while others are from the neighboring country Ethiopia (mainly oroma’s). I always dreamed seeing these children in a comfort life. If they can get help, education, health and care takers how their lives would changed. They are always borne to dangers, child labor, child soldier or even trafficking. It’s my dream one day to establish a place where they can live, learn, and get care. May prayers with all those who suffer everywhere in this world.

Lots of love,
RA

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