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.