Written by West FM Correspondent
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As the continent and the world venerated the 36th year of the African Child, critical challenging issues continue to face the African Child.
Little strides have been made to address underlying issues affecting children with disabilities as they grapple to cope up with life’s demanding challenges.
Civil War, poverty, poor governance and retrogressive culture continue to be the main stumbling blocks entangling the growth of the African Child besides disability challenges; the theme canvassing this year's commemoration.
The commemoration day set aside by African Union in every June in honor of the millions of massacred children in South Africa by the Apartheid regime in 1976 in the poor city of Soweto; faces yet new challenges in the current time- far much more demanding than those of the fateful demonstrations by the children over poor education standard in Soweto offered by the colonial master’s remains a major challenge despite the massacre that befell them close to three and a half decades ago.
The poor standard of education in many countries in Africa and developing world is still a matter that has not been well addressed long since the massacre took place.
Children with disabilities in the poor cities and rural backgrounds are facing discrimination and neglect.
Thousands of disabled children in the continent are being used by their parents with selfish reasons- converting them to cash cows in the busy streets of the cities to fish handouts from unsuspecting passers-by.
The scorching merciless sun and varying weather conditions is the climate affecting the physically impaired children in the busy and hasty streets as they are used as ‘bread winners’ for their families through their challenging physical conditions.
Parents in urban set ups like Nairobi, Lagos,Tripoli, Lusaka among other cities littered by a number of disabled children is the picture one captures as you move around the streets of the town’s shopping centers.
Holding empty cans begging for money, that some of them, who are blind do not know its value only to be collected by their shameless parents.
Children in Africa continue to be easy preys and endangered species during rampant civil wars in Africa and political instability.
Many of them are victims of short and prolonged wars.
Many disabled children perished mercilessly in Uganda under General, Amin Dadda’s despotic regime.
Uncounted tens of thousands of the disabled innocent novices were forcefully drowned in the lake to death- for bearing a brunt of disability.
Governments in Africa and other continents continue to ignore and neglect children with disabilities by ignoring to empower the schools with facilities to make their education successful; hence empowering them with life’s important skills to meet its challenges.
Most of them have been deserted, neglected and discriminated against leaving them to the merciless and cruel hands of their guardians and parents.
Deprive of life’s skills and training subject the disabled persons to dependence to their relatives and society hence nurturing ‘burden’ tag that are associated with all the ills associated with it.
Children with disabilities face neglect, abuse, abandon, discrimination and violence in their daily lives depriving them of main conventional rights that they are mandatorily entitled to.
Child labour however continues to nourish in rural and urban set ups pausing greater challenges to the future survival of children.
According to Andria Dewell of Action for empowerment (AOET) Kenya; protecting, fulfilling and promoting children with disability is the key to building humanity.
“They are unique people and not people with disabilities,” Said Andria in the commemoration of the day in Webuye town in Bungoma County of western region, celebrated at St. Joseph School of the Deaf.
She said that teachers for people with special need work with limited resources and poor salaries as they handle the most hearty and challenging task in the society.
“If we took time to appreciate the selfless work this significant people in the society do, then we can start appreciating people with disability,” she said.
It’s high time that the society came out blatantly and took the issue of disability head on, and address their crucial grievances and needs.
Governments must also give children and people with disability special attention to nurture a better society devoid of unfair treatment and discrimination.
But for leaders causing instability in the globe and more so in the developing world, the many souls of African children cry for you and cry for fair treatment.
They cry among the many mothers and children wailing for good leadership devoid of political instability that make them prey of abuse and sacrifice.
Many African Children with physical and psychological disabilities are the worst hit - they can’t manage the war weather and perish mercilessly as others scamper for their lives.
Today the African child calls for governments to educate them and empower them social economically to face the challenges of tomorrow.
They are calling for the constitutions to be made friendly to their needs and have fair representation in the government.
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