It is very sad that you will bring a relative from the village to the city and then you start treating that relation badly.
Two weeks ago I met Kelechi sleeping on the porch right in front of a school. Initially, I walked away because I was in a hurry but then the motherly instinct in me kept bothering me. The picture kept popping up in my head because Kelechi was out in the scorching sun fast asleep. But why would a child be outside fast asleep at that time? Since I couldn’t shove off that feeling I walked back to where he was and woke him up. He dragged himself off the makeshift flower bed he had converted to a bed. The streaks of sunlight penetrated his eyes and he rubbed his eyelids with his knuckles.
“Hello boy, why are you sleeping here?” I asked and flashed him a broad smile.
He stretched his arms above his head, yawned and gave me a stare that told me he was unfamiliar with this person.
“I was walking by and saw you sleeping here; it is very hot, why don’t you go home and sleep?”
“I am waiting for my sister ma,” he answered drowsily.
“Where is she?” I probed further.
“She is in that school over there, she is doing lesson and I have to wait for her until she closes from her lesson?”
“And why are you not in lesson class yourself. It is 11.00 am and you should be in class.”
“My teacher told me not to come into the class whenever I come late.”
“But your sister is in class already or are you running away from school?”
“No ma,” he replied, stretched and yawned again.
“Let me follow you to your school then.”
“I am not in the same lesson as my sister. My mummy brings her herself and when I finish chores in the house, I go for my lesson.”
Then it dawned on me why Kelechi was sleeping outside that late morning. Immediately, I realized
he wasn’t staying with his biological parents. And in my further discussion with his teacher, she made me know that Kelechi had to do house chores late into the night and morning every day. That explained why he always came late. The teacher confessed that she only said that to scare him. As at the time I saw him he hadn’t eaten breakfast.
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I walked him back to his lesson class, pleaded with his teacher who explained more about him. I gave him a token to go eat breakfast near the school. Kelechi is only 10 years. He lives with his aunt who brought him from the village. I really don’t have enough details about where he lives thus I haven’t been able to go check on him since then. But like I told him that morning, the only way he can come out of all that is for him to study hard.
But since after my encounter with him, his cute little face keeps floating in my mind and I hated the fact that I am helpless about his situation. There are so many children like Kelechi out there, who were brought from the village by their uncles and aunts with promises from these relatives that they will give them a good life, but on getting to the city these children are turned into house boys and girls. They are saddled with chores in exchange for their childhood. As soon as they arrive in the cities, they are made to earn their food, shelter, clothing and education. Many of them are clothed in rags, and feed on crumbs like scavengers. It is very sad that you will bring a relative from the village to the city and then you start treating that relation badly.
Many years ago, I had a neighbour who brought a beautiful girl with a bright smile from the village to stay with her because she didn’t have a child.
I lived upstairs while my neighbour lived downstairs. Every now and then I would hear the child crying. One day I had to ask my neighbour why the girl was always crying and she told me the girl was very stubborn. There was a day she came to play at my house and I noticed she was withdrawn and had scars all over her body. I told her aunt about it and she claimed that the poor girl got the scars because she played roughly in school. Then one day I heard her scolding the girl loudly and the cries began. I left the house to get something few streets away. By the time I got back home I saw a crowd in my compound and I became confused. Later, I was told that the young girl fainted while the aunt was beating her. She yelled for help and everyone came in to revive the girl. By the time I came in she was rushed to hospital. Of course she gave us another cock and bull story of what transpired. Eventually when her husband arrived and got to know about what happened, the next morning he took the girl back to the village. According to the husband, he had to do that because he didn’t want his wife to put him into trouble.
It is very sad that these children are made to go through traumatic childhood for no just reason. We see these women in churches and mosques; their children are beautifully dressed while the maid is dressed shabbily. It is rather unfortunate that these wicked women have no shame. The most annoying thing is that some of them hold high positions in our places of worship, yet they maltreat a helpless child that has been kept in their care. They raise their hands in worship to God while their hearts are filled with filth. You can easily tell that a child is neglected, because tell tales signs abound: they are malnourished, unhygienic, show poor weight gain, inadequate medical care, never at school or frequently absent from school. We all see these children with dirty skin, offensive body odour, unwashed or uncombed hair; tattered, under or oversize and unclean clothing. These children are miserable, that is why you see some of them stealing or begging for money. They beg for money not because they are bad but because they are hungry. It breaks my heart that these children that should be playing in the park are being overwhelmed with household chores and to make matters worse they are not well fed. For crying out loud, what is food? Why will you deprive a child of food? People who punish children with food should be thrown into a bottomless pit and made to suffer. They don’t deserve to live too; they are monsters who shouldn’t be living among human beings. Never punish a child with food! Why on earth will a mother treat another child badly? How come you don’t feel very terrible when you maltreat these children? Are you overcome by emotions when these kids weep? Why do these women or men enjoy bullying helpless children? Honestly, I don’t get why people will descend so low and treat children badly.
Well, I think one of the reasons these things thrive is because we don’t report to the appropriate quarters when these things happen. We just talk about them in hush tones in our homes and do nothing about it.
We don’t even bother to confront these child abusers about their wrong doings; we just ignore and walk away. Please for the sake of that child, we should report to the police or look for NGO’s that can help rescue such child from the clutches of the wicked witch.
Lastly, parents should stop giving their children out to relatives they are not very sure. If they do, they should go and check up on these children once in a while or ask them to come home for holidays. That is why I keep preaching to every woman to have the number of children she can fend for. Stop having too many children so that when the tides turn you won’t have to give them away. Your children should be in your custody!