Ripples

An Open Letter to the Minister Of Gender, Child and Social Protection

Dear Madam,

The awkward wrong spelling of the word ‘Beginning’ did not make any shallow the depth of the quote ‘In my beginning lies my end’ boldly inscribed behind a trotro I sat in last week. The profound words by TS Elliot, the 1948 winner of the Nobel Prize for literature would easily resonate with many-a-content foundations, but more so prompt the many more which leave much to be desired. My thread of thoughts with the latter led me to brood over the children just outside the window, who stared back at me with a look of gloom, desperation and near-defiance.

It is a common view in Accra now, and almost characteristic to see children, monitored or unmonitored living on the streets, and begging for food or money. Though not peculiar to Ghana, previous reports suggested about 61,492 growing up on streets in Accra in 2011, with a 24,000 incidence per year. The situation might be more alarming than meets the eye, as these children are predisposed to the many health conditions of such living, sexual abuse and crime involvement. In the light of a number of many recent social intervention policies, with a recent one being Operation Get Off The Street Now For a Better Life, an initiative of your ministry, we are yet to see a clear road map for this vision.

I doubt the street children could be an oversight. I doubt they would be more important than your numerous other plans and policies. Our concern is that while we all take time to brood over the issues, moments may turn to days, followed by years, then to a time that we realize that our inaction as a people and a government has been cruel and social injustice.

Could we hear you and your government speak more to Child streetism? Could we hear you declare the streets unfit for habitation? Could we see you empower the police and your agencies to take these kids off the road? Could we sound a warning clear enough to their parents that streetism could stagnate our national purpose?

Our fear madam, is that while we focus on other things, we create out of these neglected groups a people who would take their due from society by force. I have been a victim of a teenage street beggar who broke into my car while in traffic. I wonder what else this young boy would not do to make ends meet.

Madam, my people say that you do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla. Your experience and technical abilities speak for themselves. We do not want to close our eyes, so that we learn through accidents. It is only with great concern that we remind you of the gloom beginnings of Child streetism in our time.

Sincerely yours

Akosua Korang

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