Tanaka Mahanya Features Writer
Some parts of Harare’s streets are noisy, smoky, smelly, crowded and chaotic and not many people enjoy being there.
Running away from villages and other home localities due to a complex multitude of factors like domestic violence, broken family structures and harsh slap of poverty, street kids find a new home in such areas.
They are exposed to intimidation and harassment on the streets due to lack of adult protection and guidance.
Thus, they become anti-social elements indulging in theft, prostitution, drug dealing and substance addiction.
Our society encounters such children every day, yet many turn a blind eye.
Below the footbridge over Julius Nyerere Way, street kids flood the area sniffing glue in an attempt to get high, exposing their health to brain damage and severe breathing problems.
Recently, a street kid grabbed a hairpiece from a lady along Jason Moyo Avenue. It is alleged that, they are sent by some individuals in exchange for little money.
Most of them end up being rounded up by police and spending months in jail.
Homeless youths have no restrictions.
They have become more daring, even entering food outlets where diners are left with no option but to give them a portion of their food.
The corner of Sam Nujoma Street and Churchill Road in Belgravia is no different, as children on the streets beg for money from motorists driving to and from the city centre.
Speaking to The Herald, a street kid identified as Takudzwa said it was not easy living on the streets, with cold winters.
For the homeless, it is no winter wonderland as the advent of the cold season causes anxiety.
Many will scramble to find decent used coats and newspapers to keep warm. Some might receive the help of the community to battle the weather and avoid risks of dehydration and frostbite.
Although street kids are well known to be “thieves”, they work for long hours, washing cars for little reward and often have their money stolen by their older counterparts.
They often get sick as they live in an unsanitary environment.
Some men target girls on the streets for cheap sexual intercourse as they are badly in need of money for food. This leads to child pregnancies affecting some children as young as 12 years.
Giving street kids money will not take them off the streets, but rather give them the opportunity to enjoy the privilege of quick and easy money.
The Government, in partnership with non-governmental organisations and society, should build homes for street kids, where they go to school and do projects to help out financially.
Funds should be raised from supermarkets and restaurants by asking buyers for a voluntary small fee to assist towards construction of homes and facilitating projects.
The church can also play a big role by giving offerings for street children, such that at the end of every year, there is a special contribution for the homeless youths.
The money should then be channelled to responsible organisations or Government to help in projects meant for the les privileged members of society, including street kids.