Michael Kudakwashe Chideme
Children living on the streets are everyone’s responsibility, so goes the campaign messaging.
All children deserve a decent home, warm food, a hug, decent discussion with parent figures and societal integration.
Harare has a huge challenge of children living on the streets.
Some are on the streets with their parents, but the majority on their own and defending themselves against the vagaries of street life that involve fights, drugs and other forms of abuse and at times training to be rogue elements, robbers, thieves and prostitutes.
Reasons that drive children to the streets have been discussed in many fora and hopefully the majority are now aware of such reasons that include abuse by step-parents, pure truancy, sexual abuse in the home, abuse of orphans through disinheritance, among other reasons.
However, there are efforts currently underway to rehabilitate the children already on the streets.
Take them into homes and transfer life skills to them.
Angel of Hope Foundation, the brain child of the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa is rallying a non-partisan national support for the rehabilitation and integration of street children.
The Urban Councils Association has joined in the efforts.
However, the sticking issue remains that of support these children receive on the streets.
Some Good Samaritans are giving out food handouts on the streets under the false belief that they are doing a societal good.
Supporting children living on the streets is akin to promoting a lost future generation. A generation without skills. A generation without focus. A generation that looks to the next adult for a meal.
The call from Harare City Council is to stop supporting children on the streets.
The call is to join forces with progressive forces such as the Angel of Hope Foundation, UCAZ and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
These efforts include identification of centres to house the children and equip them with training materials and equipment.
The whole idea is to extract good out the children and grow them into responsible adults, some who can be goodwill ambassadors against street life.
UCAZ has already taken the lead in support of the Angel of Hope Foundation and Government.
Street children have found homes in various cities and towns that are now being primed to receive the children for rehabilitation, family reintegration
UCAZ president and Gweru mayor Cllr Josiah Makombe agrees with the mandate.
“It is the prerogative of local authorities to ensure that they deal with such situations (children living and working on the streets),” he said. “This is exactly what we are doing. We are not just helping these children so that they can be housed, but we want them to be empowered so that once they leave these homes they can be of help to themselves and the nation.”
Cllr Makombe was speaking during a tour of some of the identified homes in Kadoma and Bulawayo.
The marriage between all the parties involved should be celebrated through efforts that support the rehabilitation of the children.
We should all start the “No food on the street Campaign” and ensure that our Good Samaritanism goes towards building a future responsible youth.
Michael Kudakwashe Chideme is the head of communications at Harare City Council.