The number of our children suffering on the street is alarming and certainly calls for affirmative action that will not only help them survive, but also seek a better future that will enable them to contribute to national development.
If the old Bemba adage of ‘imiti ikula empanga’ is to deliver any meaning to our country, then the children, regardless of their status and location should be able to have equal opportunities.
For instance, children in rural areas should have an equal chance to attend school just like their counterparts in urban areas.
Similarly, those in poor families should be able to attend classes and enhance their chances of prosperity at a personal level and national level.
It is from this background that we welcome the parental call from First Lady Esther for affirmative support and protection of children, particularly those that have been sexually abused.
We are aware that today, we have many children that are struggling to live their lives like any other normal child because of the emotional torture they have gone through.
Additionally, the breakdown of extended families, equally meant that many of our children have been left homeless forcing them to seek shelter on the streets.
This is evidenced by the number of children that has continued rise on every street of every town across the country if not the entire continent of Africa. Like Ms Lungu noted, these children are living in fear and are desperate to get things going in extreme conditions.
We are also aware that there are a good number of children that are on the street not because they have lost their parents, but just because their households cannot afford to provide the needed support.
Others have deserted their guardians’ homes because of physical and psychological abuse and sought refuge in orphanages and other children’s homes.
Coping with these difficult emotions, such as sadness, anger, or fear, is developmentally more difficult for children than for adults. Until children have learned how to deal with their troubling feelings, it is
important for parents assist children in dealing with these experiences.
We therefore join Ms Lungu in calling for serious measures that would help the children to improve their lives away from homes.
Similarly, we realise that the children’s homes taking care of them need various form assistance; they need food, they need beddings, they need psychosocial counselling that will help to transform the children into responsible citizens.
The donation, by the First Lady through the Esther Lungu Foundation Trust (ELFT) of five banker beds to Chilenje Transit Home is welcome and should be commended.
But this is certainly hardly enough, looking at several other homes that are caring for our children, but are desperately in need for help to cope with the situation.
We therefore call upon the corporate world to extend their kindness to such institutions by giving helping efforts aimed at taking the children away from the streets and realise their potential.
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