Saturday, 26 August 2017

Abandoned Street Children - The Church’s Response

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Our cities are littered with children who are abandoned by their parents and care-givers. Most of them live in Motor Parks, uncompleted buildings and under the Bridges. Others street-hawk or are used by their supposed-to-be guardians to service their own families and are abandoned later when their services are no longer required. But how did they come to that point?

Causes of abandonment of children include:
1. Unwanted pregnancies by young adults who cannot carter for their children when they are born. Our African societies do not have much sympathy for any girl that makes the mistake of getting pregnant before marriage. They do not put any serious responsibility on the shoulders of the man who impregnated the girl. As a result, some of the girls, especially those living alone in cities, will hide the pregnancy from their parents and relatives but throw away the baby once they are born. Others will live with the baby for some time but when they grow up, they are abandoned by their mother who is not able to care for them properly by sending them to school. Some of the women who have the fear of God or are advised properly consult with some Christian Hospitals or Social Welfare, early enough, to take the babies for adoption after birth. Absence of social security systems in the country only worsens the situation.

2. Poverty of parents who give birth to high number of children which they do not have enough resources to take care of. This makes them to either send the children out as early as at seven years old to learn a trade or to be a house-maid to some families or give them out in early marriage. More often than not, these children end up in the streets, as these actions of their parents are not to their best interests.

3. Pregnancies by lunatics, female beggars and disabled people who give birth to children around our society. Most of them will not allow anybody to take their babies from them, thus the children grow only to walk away to fetch for themselves once they are above seven years old. Social work by churches and religious bodies is not robust in our societies.

4. Religio-culturally motivated abandonment is a problem that is widely spread in the Northern Nigeria. These abandoned children are popularly called 'Almajiris'. It is true that the religio-cultural system has a way of attempting to care for these children; however, statistics have shown that most of the children end up in the streets because they are not equipped with the education that can carry them on through life. In fact, the reason Boko Haram is having enough available recruits every now and then even after each time they are decimated may not be far from this fact that there are a lot of abandoned grown up children who are within reach.

5. Exploitative and ignorant "Motherless babies homes". These also help to throw children into our streets. How? When the children grow up to eight – ten years old, they tend to become uncontrollable. The only thing the Orphanage will do is to push them out; hence they go out with that frustration and become dangerous in the society.

The church can take up the issue of abandoned street children as an opportunity for evangelism. We can build Orphanages to take these grown up children out of the streets. We can develop social support projects in our churches. What are the practical ways your church is impacting their communities? Does your church have schools for their communities? Are they mission schools or just business establishments? Does your church have skill acquisition projects? Do you have any program for the street children? 

If you have met any of them during evangelism, you will agree that the Gospel they understand must deal with both their spiritual and immediate physical situations. Let us do our part because these souls matter too.


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