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Arrest guardians of child street beggars
Publish Date: Aug 26, 2008
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By Joshua Lubandi

SCENES of children as young as one year begging are becoming common along Kampala streets. Some sit along the to ask for money from motorists and pedestrians. Others run after cars, crossing speeding motor traffic to get a sh100 coin or so from the travellers.

The shabbily-dressed, bare-feet children usually look hungry. They brave the hot sun and street dust and run with their hands raised up to attract donors. Many of the children collect money for adults who usually sit in the nearby shelters waiting for anybody to drop a coin in the children’s hands so as to take it away.

These shameless adults are usually the children’s parents or relatives who sacrifice their own blood in exchange for money. They wake up early in the morning to look for strategic locations where they can position babies to beg. They expose their children to all forms of health problems including cough, malnutrition and jiggers.

The risk being knocked by speeding cars and insults from pedestrians. They suffer emotional stress and physical injuries in order to feed their “parents” who should be the ones to provide for the children.
There are children who are forced to live on streets by circumstances like war or loss of parents. But others have been manipulated or forced by adults to beg as a way of earning a living.

Using children to beg has become very lucrative that some individuals go as far as hiring babies from their mothers and housemaids to take them to the streets. The mothers are in turn paid per day they release their children.

The Good Samaritans who offer money to the children hope that it will help to improve their welfare. Little do they know that there are adults who use the money for their personal needs. The children are only used to collect money for the adults. The children do not get to know how much is collected or how it is spent.

We cannot afford to sit back and watch unscrupulous people violate children’s rights and kill the would-be future leaders of Uganda. Given the harsh conditions the children go through, they learn negative behaviour like pickpocketing. They turn into a threat to the general public. The Government should come in to stop this form of exploitation and abuse.

The writer is a Programme Officer for Information at ANPPCAN

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