Children are children no matter their structure, beauty, handsomeness, ugliness, disability, naughtiness and what have you. In this vein, they have the rights to be specially protected and cared for. They have the rights to be fed, clothed, health insured and to associate with parents and humans in general. They also have the right to be sent to school. All these are clearly stated in constitutions of many states. And all these are devoid of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or colour. In fact, a child must be physically, mentally and emotionally well catered for. There must be no forced labour where these children are concerned because they do not ask us to bring them into this life.
In this regard people always want to know who a child is. Many states define juveniles as children under the ages of 18. That leads me to my problem with the maltreatment of children especially those who are disabled.
I have been to many places in Ghana. Whenever I walk around cities and villages and I see children under the ages of four (mostly twins) or children who are disabled sitting by the road side, sometimes under the scorching sun, other times in the drizzling rain, my heart bleeds. That to me, is the hardest labour a child can be made to go through. How can a child who knows nothing be subjected to such cruelty? Do we know what these children can become in the future? Is the fact that a child is disabled the reason to deprive that child of his or her right to education and subject him or her to this mockery and labour?
Parents sometimes forget that what they do for their children today is what they become in future. Yes they are what we grow them to be. SO WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR CHILD AN OBJECT OF RIDICULE THAT MUST BE AT THE MERCY OF HUMANS NOW, HE OR SHE CAN BE NOTHING ELSE IN FUTURE BUT AN OBJECT AT THE MERCY OF OTHERS. We see very handsome and fine young men and women who are autistic and roaming the streets doing nothing. These young adults who were child-beggars happen to lose their ‘adorability’ and their traits of sympathy, so they get nothing from the public and become nuisance to the society. You can say that most of them end up being societal deviants.
In the northern region of Ghana, they attribute it to a belief system where spiritualists tell mothers of sick children that their children’s hearts want them to beg or they (the children) will die. So the children are paraded around in sympathetic clothes to attract sympathizers. I still find it difficult twisting my mind around this problem. So people must degrade themselves to beg in order to keep their children alive? And they are willing to beg and keep the ‘futureless’ children with them until they become dependent adults?
Now let me go right through to the disabled who can reason better than people without disabilities. Why will such children be made beggars when they can go through the educational system and become independent and responsible adults? What wrong have they committed that they have to go through the humiliation of societal dependency throughout their lives on earth? We do not plant seeds knowing the fruits they will bear but whatever it is the plants give us, our sorting will help us get something to feed on at the end of harvesting. What I am saying is that, humans are humans and every child devoid of disability can be a great person in future, so we must cherish what we have now and think of ways of shaping their lives so we can be proud of them in future. A child may be a little autistic today, but a little patience, love and care can make that child important in the near future.
Those who hide behind the clothes of poverty to deprive their children of education in modern Ghana should be ashamed of themselves because we have the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) which takes care of finances from childhood to Junior High School (JHS). Although there are a few things that must be purchased, a very determined parent will make sure to provide those needs no matter what. Why don’t you make that child an object of sympathy after he or she attains very good grades at the JHS level? I know some Good Samaritans will help them climb the educational lather and all will be worth it.
Children know nothing, children do not understand poverty, children do not know what disability is about, children just learn of being shunned with time in this universe. Please help children be children, help children go through their initial stages of life happy, comfortable and disciplined in order to be responsible adults in future.
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © 2014.