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Importance of Survival Skills

“Where is everybody when the children on the streets are dying? | Emmanuel | kanthari TALKS 2019


In the beginning we were running from
the rebels so the street became myself refuge, then
the dust settled. But where do we start from there is no more home that should
become a permanent abode. We call it home with no parents, no shelter, no food,
a home away from home. But where is everybody? Where is everybody when the
children on the streets are crying? When the screaming out loud when the being
abused? Where is everybody? Where is everybody when the children on the
streets are dying? When they’re sick under need urgent medical care, where is
everybody? what is the meaning of all the preaching
on morality the children freezing at night like a banana in the freezer. What
is the meaning of all the rights and equality the children growing up on
their own like a pomegranate in the world. Where is everybody? Where is everybody?
Where is everybody? Where is everybody? Where is everybody? Where is everybody? I see nobody when I look left or right. When I look back where I’m from, I see thousands of children suffering on the streets and when I look forward it is
bleak, it is unclear. Are these children invisible? Are they to thin to be noticed?
Or are they not children enough to be children? I would like each one of us to
ask the little child inside this one question? How would you feel if you were
a child living on the street today? According to the United Nations report
of 2014, over 150 million children live on the streets around the world. In
Uganda, a country in the eastern part of Africa, over 15,000 children live on the
street and that is according to the new vision a Ugandan newspaper. In my
hometown Gulu, a district in the northern part of Uganda, over 1,500 children
live on the street. This children have been pushed away from home due to several
factors which include but not limited to the civil war that claimed thousands of
lives, alcoholism and child neglect, domestic violence, physical and sexual
abuse and child labor coupled with psychological torture to mention but a
few. This children are forced to dive off from the sinking boat straight into the
ocean of life without any swimming skills, without a life jacket and without
a surfing board. They are thrown left, right, up and down by the turbulent wave
of the ocean and finally thrown into the island of isolation. Exhausted, cold, hungry, homeless and lonely. Where is everybody? In 2003, I was just a little
boy about 12 years old and I remember my mother organised for us our very last
Christmas party because the following day she was heading for a surgery and
she knew she would never return. One week passed by and mom was brought back on a
stretcher, she was bedridden for months and that was the beginning of the end of
my childhood joy. The light of my life went dim and I was afraid, home was
gloomy, it became sad. in my fear I ran away, I ran away to a place where I can
easily cry and find something to dry my tears, a place where I can easily express
my pain, a place where I can play with my peers and that was on the street. Most of
the boys we grew up with in the neighbourhood were children living on the
streets because of one reason or another. So while on the street, it was fun
surprisingly. We could sing and dance, we could play together and
laugh. I even learned how to play a trumpet while on the street. For a moment
I forgot the pain at home. As time went by and by, mom became better and better
and life resumed normally and I finished school. But the boys, many of them never
got the chance that I did. So most of them were consumed by the street, some
died due to drug abuse, some died due to HIV and AIDS and some were killed trying
to steal something to fill up their empty belly. One by one the cold hands of
death plucked my friends one after another like guava fruits from a tree. So
many seeds of potential and greatness right now as I speak are perishing on
the street because the environment is not conducive enough for them to
germinate. Where is everybody? My organization of Obeno has a vision for a
community where children living on the street and children affected by social
ill develop to their full potential without discrimination or violation of
their rights. So to do this, we are going to start a street academy an academy
that would bring children living on the streets and children living at home to
come and learn together through creative arts. An academy that will not try to
take away the children from the street but rather bring school to the children
on the street. An academy that will use art as a foundation for self-discovery
and self-expression. So in the academy, will have children between 3 to 17 years
old and this is how we will work. We have a curriculum which is dined for them so we have the visual arts and the Performing Arts. In
the visual arts, we have things like drawing, painting, graffiti, installation
and so on and so forth. The children will learn more about themselves and their
rights through the visual arts. We’ll go ahead to advocate for their rights to
the community by painting murals on the walls of the streets. We’ll do graffiti
on the walls and in the process, the children will be learning how to do art,
meanwhile sending a message to the community about their rights.
Additionally, they will develop their skills and reach out to the community.
Then we have the performing arts; in the performing arts,
we have storytelling we’ll have poetry we have music we have dance drama and so
on and so forth. The children will be able to speak up and share their stories
and we will use that to create a theater play which the audience will be invited
monthly to watch. They will be able to interact with the true stories of the
children and understand what goes on in the lives of the children on the street.
The children will also gain self-confidence and self-esteem to
showcase their talents and abilities meanwhile sending a message about the
rights of the children to the public. To balance up the two, we have to train them
through day to day living skills. For example decision-making skills,
communication skills, HIV and AIDS, physical and mental health among others.
We’ll also take them through literacy and numeracy, we’ll teach them English Swahili and mathematics so they can be able to venture into their activities
and learn more for themselves and finally we’ll check them through
computer literacy. Here we’ll introduce them to the basic computer skills but
later on they will be able to learn different programs like Photoshop,
Illustrator, Indesign and develop their artistic abilities. At
the end of the period with us in the street academy, a child can decide to
take up a step in life they will be knowing their ability. So this is a
center for expression, healing and discovering. So in this center we have a
mission to create a conducive environment to nurture the artistic,
athletic and intellectual potential of children through creative arts. As I wind
up, I’d like to tell you one story. Once there was a little girl living in a farm
at the countryside and one evening she was taking a walk with her dog along a
concrete path. She saw a beautiful pink flower with two green leaves on the side,
she went closer to this flower down on her knees “who fixed you in this crack?”
she murmured, as she tried to reach out and pull the flower from the crack. But she
was amazed, the flower was stuck it had sent its roots deep beneath the concrete
surface and through the crack it grew and bloomed. “How can this happen?”
the little girl asked. Well, aren’t these children on the street just like the
flower? When we nurture them, when we care for them and we nourish the abilities,
they can bloom. So my organization Obeno, which is a word in my mother
tongue which means a baby pouch or a carrier will endeavor to provide these to the children. Where is everybody? Everybody is you, everybody
is me, we are everybody. Thank you everybody

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