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Kid traders and corona – the need to make things right

By Sheku Putka Kamara

Note: This article was written in 2020 at a time when Sierra Leone was constantly recording double figures COVID-19 cases. As a nation, our response in combating this global pandemic is very crucial. We may not have it all, but the fact that we have to make do of what's available should not be overstated. The corona virus is still here. Protect yourself and help NaCOVERC and the people of Sierra Leone to make this fight winnable. Please ensure to use a clean face mask whenever you go out and try as best to avoid crowded places. Remember, this is our beloved nation and that #CoronaFetNaWeAllFet

She looked not just angry, but also hungry. In the sun, she carried that bowl of cold water. Well, hot water if you ask me. The torment of the sun was obvious. The nine years’ old Aminata who could not bear the difficulty of suffering in the sun told me that she needed something to eat. So, and like I almost always do, I had to get her a bowl of rice and meat, a cold drink and bought the whole lot of a mere Seven thousand Five Hundred Leones market of plastic water. That sum is just below a dollar and so you can imagine. Like the very many others I did come across during the past years and counting, for Amie, that bit of a cool gesture meant the world to her. She departed, but I am certain that she would be headed for the streets again, soonest. She is not alone. There are many other children that go through the same ordeal, if not worse, but what could they possibly do?

In these corona times, there have been constant calls for people to stay at home, but in situations where people have to fend for themselves each day, what would you expect? The status of poverty in Sierra Leone is not a secret. I have observed that things appear to be hard even for salary earners and so you can imagine what the situation would be for people that do not expect a salary or any other thing at the end of each month?

I have always negated the idea of sending children in the streets to sell. I have observed that there are some homes that actually have elderly people, but would still prefer children to sell and bring home the cash. For many of these markets, they hardly cost up to Twenty Thousand Leones which is about Two Dollars. In times like these, government and health experts have suggested the need to stay home and that if at all there is a need to go out, following all of the necessary health precautionary measures as outlined by the World Health Organization and other health experts has been strongly recommended. To me, these kids are at risk because I am not too sure that they are in a better position of understanding the dos and don’ts of corona. I say so because, like Aminata, all street kid sellers come across different kinds of people.

The health statuses of these people are surely not known. What if people are carriers of transferrable diseases? With the way people exchange monies in this part of the globe, and the high likelihood of touching one another’s hands, no one is safe.

That is why parents and guardians must reason out a bit and not to put children at risk of getting infected with the corona virus. I am neither a health expert nor a health practitioner, but the fact that these possibilities should not be ruled out cannot be overemphasized.

Other home sellers have resorted to placing some of these markets on the road side or at the nearby of their different houses. This is not a bad approach. At least, it has saved a whole lot of other teenagers who could have been out there and to interact both directly and indirectly with some people. Pupils are currently not attending schools.

Parents and guardians must use this opportunity to give children some time to play, relax and to also read their books. It is necessary. The risk of allowing children to be in the streets is huge and there are a whole lot of implications in such practices.

Corona is still with us. The cases keep rising. These are not normal times. Coordinated efforts are needed to make this fight winnable. We have fought tougher and other stronger battles as a people. Let us continue to brace up and see to it that corona becomes a thing of the past. This is very possible just if we continue to adhere to the health measures as outlined by health experts. That is why I will strongly recommend the need to change the situations of street kid traders. Things are hard, but let us please save children like nine year old Aminata because the rightful decisions we make today, may have positive impacts on all of us tomorrow.

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