One of the most vulnerable and neglected sects of our society is that populated by street children. The term street children as articulated by Amnesty International, refers to those either on or of the street. Some are engaged in nominal economic activity ranging from begging to vending, while others have no association with any economic activity whatsoever. Few have family ties, and those that do are weak and maintained only casually. Poverty, the death of parents, or the necessity of supporting their families has driven these otherwise bright and lively children to the streets.
There are thousands of street children in the Western Province of Sri Lanka alone. Of these children few have proper housing and even fewer attend school. They roam the streets and migrate mostly toward larger cities such as Colombo, Kandy, and Kurunegala in search of work. The majority turn to begging, rummaging through rubbish bins while others turn to drugs and crime or are caught in the webs of child slavery, trafficking, or prostitution. A British Charity, Christian Aid, estimates that over 10,000 children aged 6-14 are enslaved in brothels, and 10,000 to 12,000 children are trafficked and prostituted by organized crime groups.
The Department of Probation and Child Care was set up in order to address the issues associated with street children. However the government alone cannot solve this problem. Social service organizations and each citizen in Sri Lanka needs to extend cooperation in order to rehabilitate these children via education, love, and nourishment.
How can you help? First, let us all address the problem of street children instead of accepting it as an unchanging reality. If we come together as a community to construct more accessible schools and homes for these children, the rehabilitation process can begin on a much larger scale. Education is important to the improvement of society.Any society, and for the instilling of positive social transformation, it is pressing that each of us pitch in to do our part.
If more children are housed in a nourishing and loving environment, less will turn to drugs and crime. The number of Sri Lankan children trafficked or prostituted will decline. Our communities will flourish with a higher number of educated, excited, and creative populous ready to enter a healthy Sri Lankan work force. Rather than forgetting these children, let us celebrate their future. Their future is our future. We are one Sri Lanka.
To find out how STITCH is helping to improve our future, or to find out how you can dedicate yourself, please visit our website at www.stitchmovement.com.