*Peter was only 3 years old when both his parents succumbed to the ravages of HIVand AIDS. Also living with the virus, he went to stay with a distant aunt. But the aunt did not see sufficient cause to feed “a person who is going to die soon.” Peter was often abused, neglected and never felt loved; before long he left home to live on the streets.
“I used to sleep under a drain. We used cardboard or sacks to cover ourselves when we slept on shop verandas or in the street. At night the police came and chased us away,” recalls Peter. “My worst experience was when I ate rotten meat from a bin. I think it was a rat which had been poisoned. I was sick for many days and wished, ‘If only I could die.’ I never believed in God but that time, I prayed that I should die,” he narrated his ordeal.
At 15 years, Peter was rescued by a city church that reaches out to street children. He had already spent 5 years living on the streets but is now looking forward to the future with hope. “I want to be a pastor when I grow up. I want show love to other children on the streets like the church did for me.”
Often victims of all kinds of abuse, it is estimated that 120 million children live on the streets in the world. Street children are minors who live and survive on the streets. They often grow up in public dumps, under drains, under bridges and in train and bus stations of major cities. Mostly viewed as a nuisance, petty criminals and filthy beggars with a risk to spread disease, street children are normal children who end up living in the streets. The reasons children go to the streets are unique and varied but often poverty, neglect, the breakdown of the family, loss of one or both parents, verbal, physical and sexual abuse are the main causes cited.
On the streets, children suffer all kinds of challenges and abuse, but the biggest is being ignored by society, including Christians and the church who see their state as “normal”.
Street children are hungry not only for bread but for understanding and love. Famous Catholic missionary Mother Theresa, while commenting on street children said, “They’re naked not only of clothing but of human dignity that has been stolen from them.” Will you and your church do something to reach the street children as it was written, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” Mark 10: 14?
- That he Church will find creative ways to obey God’s command to care for the poor
- Pray for freedom, restoration and healing for children who have been victims of abuse on the streets and back home
- Give thanks for the many organisations who seek to reach out to street children, providing for their basic needs and seeking to give them a fresh start