A social commentator, Nomusa Chikari, says Zimbabweans should start respecting street kids in towns and cities which have become formidable communities at a time most local people are facing serious problems due to the current harsh economic situation and other issues like the breakdown of family structures.
Chikari told VOA Studio 7 more street kids are flocking into big cities in search of a better life after leaving their families and indications are that they are here to stay.
She said the children have diverse backgrounds and most of them come from small towns and places where mines have shutdown “or maybe where the parent that was looking after them is no longer there, may be the HIV pandemic and economic situation at their homes.”
Chikari said the majority of street kids, who are found in Zimbabwe’s second largest city Bulawayo, don’t speak the local language as they came from various towns.
“They are clever and can adapt to any situation,” she said, noting that it’s high time for the world recognize that street kids are a distinct community, which needs a lot of respect and care.
“This is another community that we have to live with just like we have the community of disabled people or any other community because they are really a community instead of us shunning them children of the streets. They may not go away,” said Chikari.
In Bulawayo alone, she said, the last census conducted by a local non-governmental organization and the local authority established that there were more than 160 children “but I think there are more now.”
In terms of institutionalization, Chikari noted that street children need to be handled with care otherwise they run away or revolt as they are used to making fast cash.
“To them the stomach hits first than any other thing… Maybe just intensify their skills in their environment and alert them to stop drug abuse because they are make their own decisions out there,” she said.