Street Kids Are Our People Too!

Posted: December 28, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Apioth Mayom, Featured Articles

By Apioth Mayom Apioth

The number of homeless children in the South Sudanese capital has more than doubled since 2009

The number of homeless children in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, has more than doubled since 2009

On October 22, 2014, the New York Times ran an article titled “From a Rwandan Dump to the Halls of Harvard.” The story was about a young man named Justus Uwayesu, who was rescued at age 9 while living on the streets of Kigali; and through a principled composure, and high aptitude to learn with a little help along the way, he found himself in the most prestigious university in the world, Harvard, this past fall.

To extend over the story to the predicament of our very own street children in South Sudan, we would come to realize that the genocidal story of Rwanda wasn’t so much different to what South Sudanese went through for over half a century. First, the second Sudanese civil war left a deep scarred wound among South Sudanese, culminating in the thousands of street kids we saw before the current political malaise broke out in late December last year. And second, the December 15’s political crisis just added a salt to an already precarious painful wound by orphaning a new wave of street children.

South Sudan, in terms of size, is bigger than either of Kenya or Uganda; however by population-wise, its population stood at 8.5 million at the 2008 census, making it four times less populated than Uganda, and five times less numerically numerous than Kenya. In addition, South Sudan is endowed with a few mineral resources; with oil footing the majority of the bill. We have been extremely lucky to have been endowed with a country that is not heavily populated and that means less competition to knock elbows for resources. Fifty years from now, we might be tuning ourselves to a different ball-game.

Once the Peace Agreement is reached between the SPLA-IO and the SPLA-Juba, we are going to witness the same plundering of public funds all over again. We won’t have new chiefs in town; we will have the same Kiir Mayar, Riek Machar, Pagan Amum, and Majak Da Agoot beating the same old drums of saying to each other, “I will never stop building one mansion after another.” With the amount of money that gets embezzled through different cracks of government ministries every year, and how the not so large population of our country is, a small sum could be used to build street children’s shelters in all the state capitals of the country; at these shelters, a few paid workers could be employed to take care of these clientele kids. Building shelters for these kids sound like a better idea than allowing our government to bank-roll their living expenses while living under the custody of adopted foster parents; foster parenting would cast a big load on the government’s budgetary expenditures.

In addition, state capitals seem like good spots because they are always the business hubs of most states, and for that reason, they draw many people from different pockets of the states to their cores. Sometime last year, an article on Sudan Tribune came out reporting about a 14-year- old South Sudanese girl who used to get raped every night by police without giving her a penny for her services. Imagine, if that was your daughter, sister, niece, or another close relative, how would that make you feel? People who wouldn’t have a bad feeling about those brutal monstrosities are mainly the ones who committed those despicable crimes.

In sub-Saharan Africa, we are free to blame most of our societal ills on corruption, and our opinionated views are rightfully deserved. Corruption eats away at our much-needed resources of development like a beastly bottomless sloth. The reaches of corruption are deeply entrenched in the many sectors of our governments. And no matter how wretched the corruption is creating havoc to our developmental ambitions; we are not to blame for most of the societal ills that the corruption has thrust upon us, because the democratic institutions needed to properly run our governments haven’t flowered to maturity just yet; they are still in their infantile, nascent state. Apart from Mozambique, which was ruled by Portugal for some 477 years; Europeans rule in much of Africa didn’t last long for institutions of democracy to fully blossom to maturity like it did in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Corruption as we know will continue until the democratic institutions of accountability have matured. Humans are known to spoil themselves once they have gained something substantial. That is the reason behind why some of us go out on the weekends to have a few sips of beer; some of us call it the “head out” to relieve ourselves from the stress we accumulated during the course of the week, but in reality it is spoiling our dear selves. It is along the same lines that we see a lot of our public officials indulging in embezzlement of our funds because they find these resources easily accessible to them, and since we all have a weakness to spoil ourselves every once in a while, they sometimes go right ahead and take whatever they can while they are at it. So while many of us have been crying for a change of direction since the dawn of Independence, much of the blame should have been squarely targeted at weak governing institutions we hired from the colonial governments.

As long as there are no laws enacted to scare public officials from stuffing their treasury cabinets with public funds, we won’t have a day of rest. Strict laws indicating that public officials who have been found guilty of taking from the government’s treasure trove might be deprived of their offices; that misappropriated resources might be confiscated; and that any guilty party might be send to spend some time in an institution of confinement; all these laws might deter our politicians from participating in acts of self-indulgence. All public officials who serve any section of the citizenry must allow anticorruption agencies to scrutinize all their assets every year.

All in all, since the dawn of independence from the colonial regimes, the political philosophy of much of Africa has been guided by governments ruling their people through upright moral principles, since institutions of accountability have been slow to blossom to maturity. We, in South Sudan, can apply the same upright moral principles since we are the most infantile, nascent state of the continental Africa to have a second look at what we can do to alleviate the burden of impoverishments our street kids are going through.

By doing that, our government would be saying a one good big “thank you” to our martyrs and heroines who lost their lives in over half a century of struggle to find our footing in the world. Just like Justus Uwayesu of Rwanda, some of our street kids are probably scavenging over debris right now wondering whether they will find anything at all to sustain their miserable lives, and just like Justus Uwayesu, if they are given food provisions to nurse their hunger and a home to shelter themselves from the weather, one of them might make it to the residential halls of Harvard one day.

By giving these kids a chance to put their lives together, we are not only bettering their future prospects; we are also helping ourselves from turning some of our own into criminals who might one day come back and make our lives a living nightmare.

References:

Wines, Michael. (2014, October 22). From a Rwandan Dump to the Halls of Harvard. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/23/us/from-a-rwandan-dump-to-the-halls-of-harvard.html?_r=0.

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