Many street connected children resort to violence and stealing in order to survive, and many take drugs – glue sniffing is extremely common. Many children have low self esteem and see themselves as bad and worthless.
The children sleep in makeshift shelters, on pavements, and in local parks.
Within the city there are mothers who use their small children to beg from passers-by. Eventually, the children grow to an age where they are no longer useful and are often left to fend for themselves.
Older children can earn money from ‘parking’ – looking after a vehicle to ensure it is safe from any vandalism. Vehicles which are not kept safe in this way will often have their wing mirrors and other car parts stolen by the street connected children. Some children use prostitution (boys and girls) as a means of obtaining money. Rape is also common, and children have been killed by mobs for stealing.
Children are often arrested by the municipal police and sent to remand centres for several months. Often, they are then released straight back onto the streets.
Life on the streets is a hard existence for many with several areas controlled by ‘leaders’ who exploit the children and take money from them.
Why are they on the streets?
There are many different reasons but a common theme is due to step-parents who abuse the children and force them from their homes. Parents unable to provide for their child sometimes send them into nearby towns and cities in the belief the child will fare better by working or begging for food.
And there are children who have run away from home – from abuse, or because they have misbehaved and fear they will be severely punished if they remained in their home. And there are children who leave their homes purely for adventure and to see the ocean!