My girlfriend on the street .
It was a stormy rainy Monday morning. In fact, it had been raining since the dawn of that morning. It was not easy getting a” Trotro’ to work that morning. It was like the survival of the fittest. “How I go fi do?”. You have to be at work rain or shine. You know, life still goes on and business still goes on what ever the weather. The road was not too good. Pot-holes here and there; then the muddy untared road which has been beaten inconsiderably by the rain worsening its situation. It was not a pleasant journey that morning.
I peeped through the window of the “trotro” watching the showers of the rain and other things-signboards, kiosks, stores, buildings, cars, people places etc. I am used to that. Very curious isn’t it? But I like to question and analyse the sights, smells and sounds of my environment. It was during my peeping that my small eyes fell on something that struck me. Something I cannot stop questioning and analysing. Something I have been thinking about since that morning. Something I cannot keep to myself. Something I wish can be changed…
My curious eyes fell on this little girl, about 11 years old standing in the rain with no umbrella. What was she doing in the rain? She was selling “PK”. Her target customers were the passengers in “trotros” and others in their private cars. In Ghana, it is common to see youngsters parading the major streets selling petty items-Newspapers, sweets and sometimes iced water. There she stood, the rain beating her mercilessly...feeling cold. Later she might fall sick. She was in the rain during school hours. Some of her peers are on their way to school in their parents’ cars or in school buses. Oh yes, I saw some pupils. Those pupils have a bright future what about this other one. What will her future be?
This my PK seller friend is not the only one in such a situation. There are a number of boys and girls who chase cars everyday selling “chips”, iced water, “bofoloto”, etc in the major streets of Accra and many other streets in the world during school hours. What will their future be?
What is wrong? What went wrong and what can be done to change this situation? Are there laws at all that should address these issues? Are they voices that can speak on their behalf?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which was adopted/rectified by world leaders in 1990 clearly state that every child has the right to education and the state in which this child lives shall make sure that every child enjoys this right. The Ghana ‘home made’ version of the CRC “The Children’s Act 560” also stresses on the fact that children should not be engaged in activities that affect the child’s health and education.
But what do these confusing book long conventions mean to the poor parent or guardian who cannot read or write? Who cannot make ends meet?
What do these Acts and Conventions mean to a little girl who to her school is a mirage?
Whose is responsible to shoulder family and feed hungry, old and weak family relations even though that should not be the case?
What do they mean to the little girl whose Auntie came to pick her from the village to come and stay with her…to cook and clean and take care of household chores? I believe strongly that it is about time we all tune in the volume of our voices to save the unfortunate situation of some of our voiceless sisters, friends, daughters on the streets.