By Norman Kapata
WE have seen an increase of street children on our streets and I recently had an opportunity to have interviewed a street child to find out what has made him to lead such kind of life.
The name of the boy has been withheld because he is a child and needed to be protected, here is what he shares.
I usually wake up as early as 05:00hours every morning after a long night on a torn mat in the sitting room which is turned into our cool bedroom after every nightfall.
We have found ourselves in a two-roomed house because my parents cannot afford a more decent house.
I am the firstborn and aged 10years with three of my little brothers from the same father and mother.
My father is a charcoal trader and the income he generates from his business is not enough to meet our daily needs as a family sometimes we would go to bed without food and sometimes we just drink water to keep us living.
So as always every morning I usually wake up early to help my mother who is a housewife to wash the plates and sweep our small yard.
When it’s 07:00 hours with my friends we leave our home to go into town while our other age-mates would be going to school or would be sleeping in bed.
On the other side of life we find ourselves heading into town with big empty sacks on our back to look for empty mineral water plastic bottles in drainages, dumpsites, dust bins which we collect and take for a sale to bring food and bread to our parents’ homes.
It’s not an easy task for a young boy of my age as we walk from one shop to another looking for our “gold” on a good day you can be done by 14:00 hours to fill up the sack, but on a bad day, we are made to walk long hours.
Sometimes we are chased from various buildings and premises in our quest to make a living as some people think that we love doing what we do like visiting dump sites.
Its hunger that has forced us and circumstances beyond our control to pick the empty plastic bottles.
We the little boys are helping out to bring food to our homes so we beg society not to treat us as criminals or outcasts.
The streets today are full of street kids not that we want to be on the streets it’s because our parents are failing to keep these homes and bring food home.
In some homes, it’s us the so-called small boys or street kids who are feeding our families from these plastic bottles we collect and sale.
We sometimes spend the day under drainages to rest and make plans as to which route to take and at times we spend the lunch break at the back of some Restaurants to find food leftover from the tables for survival.
Sometimes we are chased from other restaurants but if you are lucky and come to find the owner who has a good heart you are made to wash plates and in return you are given a decent meal.
Well, such is life after the hurdle with meals we return into the streets with our sacks on our backs.
But at times I think of what my siblings back home on how they are surviving but I only trust that God is taking care of them.
When we are done collecting these empty plastic bottles we head to Choma’s biggest open trade market at Makalangunzu where the buyer of these items gives us cash at the spot of delivery.
After being paid I usually buy a smaller pack of mealie meal popularly known as ka ‘Pamela’, some vegetables, 300ml of cooking oil, salt, and sugar.
After I am done buying these items and most times it’s usually around 16:00hours I would rush home for my mother to cook.
When I get back home my mother would welcome me and starts preparing for supper our meals are usually of vegetables and dry Kapenta.
We usually eat beef Or chicken during Christmas mostly after my father has a good sale of charcoal as the demand that time around is high and after saving for the festive season but the other days it’s nshima with vegetables.
When mum is done cooking we would sit around with my little brothers to eat what God has provided us for that day and as usual, we have jokes together as a happy family and also have fun while enjoying our meal
After we are done eating we usually get our plates and pots inside the house to prepare for the night
This is how my day ends and think of how tomorrow will be and this is how my future is going to be because if I do not go into town to look for empty plastic mineral water bottles for sale my little brothers and parents will die of hunger.
My dreams of going to school are a nightmare as who will take me to school and pay for my school fees.
Only GOD him alone knows our future
The Author is a retired Journalist & current President Of the CHOMA PRESS CLUB