Wars have driven many Africans away from their home areas, displacing many within their own countries and forcing others to flee to foreign lands as refugees. In these dramatic moves, there is no time to settle in one place and to grow food. Parents have lost children, and children have lost parents, being orphaned or abandoned with no one to care for them.
After wars, many Africans return from exile not to their native countryside but to unfamiliar cities. The lands where they originally lived are not safe because of deadly landmines. With no food production and recurrent famines, orphaned or cast-off children become "street kids." Young boys and girls who have had no education or moral teaching are now bringing up children of their own. All too often, a 16-year-old father abandons a 14-year-old mother, leaving her with a child to care for. She has no food, no place to live, and no one to help her raise the child; so she decides to dump the baby in a garbage can. Sometimes the young mother can manage to care for the child up to a certain age. But when her life becomes unbearably hard, she abandons the child to life as a "street kid."
The churches in Mozambique have no means to support street children. If they could provide the kids with food and shelter, they could try to convince them to accept moral instruction. No teaching is going to enter the head of a child with an empty stomach.
Is there, then, any hope for the children of Africa? Yes, there is hope. Let there be peace in Africa. Let the landmines be removed and not replanted. Let the governments and the churches provide for the children and instruct them. The governments have to stop the wars. The governments, international organizations, and churches have to join forces to remove the landmines. Education and health care have to be provided.
And while this is being done, we need to provide training for the rural people who are living in cities without city skills. Short courses in such skills as carpentry, iron forging, computer operation, and sewing could prepare some young people for employment.
If we could join hands to do this, we could see the number of "street kids" reduced in a few years time. Families could remain intact, and hope for the children of Africa would become a reality.
Zacarias M. Uqueio of Mozambique is a director of the General Board of Global Ministries.
||You may help provide a better world for African children by giving to the Bishops' Appeal: Hope for the Children of Africa. Be sure to include the Advance number #101000-4, on your checks. Contributions may be made payable to your local United Methodist church and put into the collection plate, or they may be made payable to the Advance for Christ and His Church and mailed to: |
|Resources for the Appeal can be ordered free by calling 1-888-862-3242.|
Mother Wleh's Orphanage and the Bishop Craig Home in Liberia