Increasing cases of children hawkers
By Maria Famakinwa
Children who are often referred to as rare gifts from God to be loved, nutured and cared for by their parents and guardians to achieve their potentials are becoming more or less the bread winners of their respective homes as they hawk in the streets on a daily basis mostly after the school hours.
Not even the risk involved in sending children on the streets to hawk with several cases of accidents involving children hawkers could discourage some parents against such act as they blamed the harsh economy for their actions.
Findings by The Hope revealed that some of these children who attend public schools, immediately after closing by 2pm already have the items they want to hawk prepared by their mothers. Most of them explained that once they get home from school, they soak garri with groundnut and hurriedly do their home assignments given to them in school before going out to hawk and will not return home until around 7pm which exposes the girls among them to all forms of sexual harassment and the boys joining bad gang.
Some of the children gave various reasons why they hawk. A 12-year-old Master Oluwaseun Akinlade who was sighted hawking ‘fufu’ at second gate bus-stop in Oba -Ile said that he hawk to assist his mother. “It is the duty of every good child to assist the parents in providing the needs of the family which is what I am doing. My mother also hawk fufu at Oja -Oba market while I hawk in Oba-Ile in order to provide for our needs. I do not see anything bad in assisting my mother in as much it does not affect my study.”
On how he combine hawking with reading, he said that when he close from school by 2pm, he will eat and do his homework and relax for another 30 minutes before hawking.
“My target are civil servants who will be returning home around 4pm and I make sure that I have done all I needed to do before 4pm so as not to miss my target. I return home around 5.30-6pm when my mother too would have been at home to prepare for school the next day.”
For Chinaso, a 14- year-old who hawks vegeatable at Oja-Oba market said that he was not compelled to hawk but love to assist her mother. “I hawk to assist my mother not that anybody forced me. After all, many other children also help their parents to hawk. My mother is always happy whenever I hawk for her and she compensates me in return.”
On how she manage to cross the road, he said that she started hawking when she was 10 years old and have mastered how to cross the road but appealed to the federal and state government to make policies that will benefit the masses so that her mother can stop selling vegetables. “I do not like to hawk but it is to assist my mother. If the economy improves, my mother will not sell vegetables again and I will stop hawking. I want to beg the federal and state governments to help the poor masses in the country.”
Also, a 10-year-old Adijat Olaolu, was seen running after a taxi with sachet water popularly known as pure water to sell to commuters at Texaco bus stop close to Oja -Oba market. When asked what prompted her to selling sachet water said that she started selling when she was nine years old because other children too in her compound are hawking sachet water and are making money for themselves. “When I started selling last year, my father was not happy about it, saying that it was risky and will prevent me from reading but now, he no longer exercise such fear because I am no longer new in it”.
When told that running after taxi to sell sachet water could cause accident, cuts-in, “We can not be involved in any accident since that is what the business demand most times. Some will be thirsty and are inside cabs, so we need to run after the cab to sell pure water to them. Understanding the nature of the business make us to be very careful and watchful despite running after taxi to sell sachet water.”
Likewise, a 13-year-old Bayo, hawking roasted fish at Oja-Oba explained that he started helping his mother to hawk fish while he is 11 years old and that he had no choice but to assist his mother who according to him was struggling to provide for the family since their father abandoned them years ago.
On how he cope with his study said that he make sure he gets home by 5.30pm either or not he had finished selling his market to eat and read his book before he goes to bed. “Creating time for my study out of my busy schedule has been helping me to do well in my academics.”
A Counselor, Mrs Modupe Adedipe lamented that despite the law protecting children’s right in the country, majority of them are still expose to all forms of dangers on a daily basis.”How do you expect a child to excel in his/her academic when he/she hawk after the school hours and get home around 6pm already tired? This is why it is advisable for parents to give birth to the number of children they can cater for instead of blaming the harsh economy for their actions. Most of these children who hawk join bad gang and the girls are mostly victims of sexual assault. By the time you weigh it, you will realise that it is of more disadvantage to allow children to hawk so that they can assist the parents. Some of them through hawking involved in accident and lost their lives. What then is the gain of such parents?