While driving back from Peshawar, my thoughts were disturbed by a knock while our vehicle halted at the crossroads to take the freeway. Looking out the window, I shifted my gaze. A little youngster with sunken cheeks, a tanned complexion, and thin hands held a basket full of stuff. When I slid the window open, he handed me a bar of chocolate and said five rupees. I could not help but wonder about his parents. His silence made it appear as though he had much to say. For the second time, he tried to persuade me to buy his candy.
I purchased chocolate, and as he was ready to depart, I re-asked the same question and received the same response. When I stared into his eyes, he trembled briefly. I have no idea if I scared him away, but he departed. He moved to another vehicle, but he kept glancing over his shoulder at me. I continued to wonder what was going through that child’s head.
The signal went green, and the automobile proceeded forward. I was unable to forget this kid. I recall how happy I was as a child when someone gave me chocolates. I realised how fortunate I am, having consumed a sweet but not selling them.
I could see broken hopes in his eyes. I could feel his anger at having to be in that cage, but his appeal was obscured by the damage he endured. I could tell that he had no voice and so no option. I observed his struggle for justice, but only within himself. I saw the raging storm within him.
A bandage could not save this tiny boy from his wounds. He was scarred by years of abuse, violence, and greed. It was easy to see from his frail frame that he had shown great courage and fortitude.
He made me realise how we all have collectively failed, how our system has failed, and how the future of our nation is ignored.
The future of our country is carrying backpacks that are not loaded with books but with the weight of providing for their families. He made me understand how clueless we are about such delicate matters and how we are rearing youngsters to grow up and detest their childhoods….. Something my parents, teachers, friends, reporters, and everyone else around me had failed to see was brought to my attention by this tiny young lad.
No, I am not blaming the government for this. We, the people, are in charge. Our representatives are those who set the rules. So, indirectly, it is us. When we criticise the government, we are implicitly blaming ourselves and our choice of leaders.
Before I blame anyone for this, I want to blame myself. I will explain why. This is not the first time I have seen something similar. I have traveled past the same junction a number of times, and I have witnessed a number of poor children like him, but what I have done is nothing but remain ignorant. Perhaps the most outstanding effort I made was to permit them to retain the change.
As it turns out, they did not require what I was offering.
Their basic needs and education were unmet since they lacked childhood experiences, care, and affection. In addition, I am fully aware that I cannot supply all of the things to any of them, let alone all of them.
However, there are still a few things I could have done but never would have thought to do till now. All of us are affected by this.
- Make them or their parents aware of the fact that children have a right to education. Educate them on the advantages of attending public schools.
- Provide them with reading material.
- Inform the local non-profit organisations or the local child welfare organisation.
- Inform any relevant authorities who may be able to take appropriate action.
- And the least we can do is refuse to provide them with any financial assistance. Yes, it is a little savage. When you look at those innocent children and say no, it is painful. As a result, their parents and guardians are more likely to involve their children in these activities. These children are frequently trafficked and made to fend for themselves or beg on the streets. It is not uncommon for traffickers to provide drugs to these children in order to keep them from fleeing, and as a result, their drug abuse cycles repeat. If we give them money, we may be encouraging the drug trafficker to feed narcotics to children. Instead, provide them with something that only the youngster can have, like food or clothing.
Let us all strive to act with compassion and accountability. Rather than waiting for someone else to fix the problem, let us do it ourselves. Let us see whether we can be that person who can bring a change.