Mogadishu's Lost Children

This is an article I wrote back on 24/07/2012. I re-published this to highlight the problem some of our young children are facing in the rapid progress the country is currently witnessing. Although the city is getting safer by the day, we cannot forget our young.

WHEN you travel in Mogadishu, Children have a large presence across the city. Everywhere you go, you see a child with a brush and tin full of polish. In the KM4 district, there are a lot of children with boxes of polish looking to shine anybody/clients shoes.

 As I was lingering around the neighbourhood, I could see older men treating the young children, some as young as 6, like they were “owned” for that 4 minutes of getting their shoe cleaned. You can see the lost and humiliation the child is feeling right across his/her eyes although one has to see the pressure the kid has in order to support his/her family and the value this income can provide. No child ought to face these responsibilities.

The kid would often charge for 2,000Somali Shilling, which is exactly 9 cents in US dollars, for a clean shining shoe. In those 4 minutes, it seems like the child is working as if they would earn about $100. Sometime, the way they are treated and humiliated is absolutely disgraceful. They are sent by their parents to earn a living while the parent is either selling pastries in a food stall or begging across the other street. 

Mogadishu has changed and it seems as if Mogadishu has forgotten its “lost” children. Things need to change and they need to change now. A new legitimate government has opened its doors for the first time in 22 years. The government must recognize there are a lot of problems to deal with in Mogadishu. We cannot just wave our hands across this problem.

The government/institution must open up schools, recreation centre’s, trauma classes and teach people about the environment and how one can support or sponsor a child in their local community.

As the rich is getting richer, on this current rate, it really does seem the poor will only get poorer and the streets of Mogadishu are only evident to see.

Mohamed Hassan (Dj)