Tuesday, 24 August 2004

The tale of a young vagabond

Gome writes:

He was giving the ladies at the door a tough time when I arrived for church service early last Sunday morning. His shirt was a cake of blood and food crumbs, evidence that he had been in skirmishes as well as picking in bins. His hair was crumpled and his skin as grey as ash. It was apparent he was sleeping in trenches or on burnt out heaps of ashes. I looked at him and though he recognised me he simply ignored me, insisting he wanted to go inside the church hall so he could pray to God, but the ladies stood their ground for he was in a bad state. I tried to reason with him but he turned a deaf ear on me. Only after protracted persuations did he give up. I had managed to promise him my used clothes and tackies if he could in turn wash up. So that was the deal to be honoured this Thursday.

His name is Chileshe, another young, promising and intelligent boy who was with us a few years ago. He had aspired to be a pilot and had worked hard in school work at our make shift school. Seeing that his dreams could not be fulfilled due to lack of support to further his school career as well as meet personal and educational needs, he had drifted into the canyon that most boys his age did, the era of cheap drugs and living an outlaw's life. Unfortunately, Chileshe became insane and is now a vagabond, call it a tramp, at his age. I weep at the early demise of another innocent child.

Saturday, 7 August 2004

Poor Zambia postpones polls

Democracy can be expensive

From BBC News:

Local elections in Zambia have been postponed because the government cannot afford to hold them.

The polls had been due in November but have been put back by two years.

Local Government Minister Sylvia Masebo said the $64m it would cost to stage the elections would be better spent on roads and hospitals.
More on Google News about Zambia.

Friday, 6 August 2004

A boy's tale

Gome writes:

A few weeks ago, I was on my way to see an acquaintance and had to get on a bus. At the bus stop in town, I jumped onto a minibus but had to wait for it to fill up as I was the first passenger.

As I waited, along came a boy carrying a sizable number of plastic bags full of sweets, biscuits and such stuff which he was selling to commuters. He came up to me and we looked each other straight in the face. Our eyes met and the recognition in both of us was apparent. The boy was one of the kids we had looked after and taken to school a few years ago. I remember very well that he was one of the most promising among his peers and got wonderful grades at school. What then had happened?

“Uncle Gome!” he exclaimed. I ignored the greeting and sternly asked him what he was doing, hawking instead of being in class. “Well,” he said, “You have not provided any school uniforms and books for me the past three years and besides that there is the issue of school fees.” “Did you have to drop out of school just like that?” I inquired. “I had no choice,” he replied. “How about your mum?” I pressed. “Mum tried to help but couldn't cope coz she is too poor and as you know there's my sisters and brothers to take care of as well. Dad didn't leave us any estate when he died. These sweets you see are the only source of livelihood for the whole family. If you can come to my aid again, I will gladly go back to school. You used to give us food but you no longer do so. I wouldn't be here if you hadn't stopped your good gestures,” he ended.

I couldn't reply but he saw the driver getting ready to start off so he offered me two sweets. I contemplated declining the items but I could see that he would be deeply hurt so I reluctantly got them he smiled and the driver revved off.

I realised the children need long term assistance if they are to get out of their present predicament as well as be secure. Programs have to run continuosly because once they cease, the children return to square one.