Who’ll Notice If These
12 Street Kids Are Gone?
Take a good look at these faces. If we were to pull your heartstrings, picture them dreaming of being doctors, artists, teachers, even presidents of their countries. Chances are, however, they’ll never make it. Both statistically and in real life, it’s likely they’re already gone.
Despite their resemblance to kids you know, they only count as dehumanized figures of ignored treatises on the homeless, the war, infant mortality, hunger, prostitution, slavery. Not to break those strings, but you may pass daily by them and not even notice.
Yes, they have stories, and much good to contribute to the world, and who knows, maybe among them there’s someone who one day could even save your life. But that doesn’t mean much.
And yes, there are a lot of people who spend their waking hours, and sleepless nights, working and wondering what to do, so unrelated children will be cared for just as if they belong to families and loving friends and an empathetic society. But most of them do not, and won’t get a chance to even know what that means.
You’re still free to wonder about whatever happened to Alex or Indira, after they posed with their sleeping cots, and you may search on the Internet for the identity of those two Cambodian boys, sleeping embraced on a set of steps. We added the photographers’ names just in case.
You may also inquire around about those two girls, among thousands of others, who seemed so happy with the bottles of water they’ve retrieved amid the rubble of Gaza. Or you may wish that those two boys, who’ve crossed the border of Syria to Turkey with their families, have found shelter.
We won’t stand on your way. In fact, we’d even appreciate if you could help finding out who are those four American kids, sleeping in what seems to be an abandoned room, somewhere in the South, as far as we know. Or the photographer who took the picture, who we could not identify (and broke our own rule, by publishing the photo anyway).
It’s still a sobering reality that, despite the estimated 17 million kids living in the streets of urban Brazil, we’re likely to learn their names only if some grizzly fate leads them to tabloid headlines. Lives that no human being should have to endure are often capped by deaths that no one would rather remember.
Many organizations set the number of homeless children in the world today at 100 million, but that may be a conservative figure (yes, another piece of data that replaces a person’s identity). Close to two million of them are American kids, according to research done three years ago, which means that there may be more.
Being out there also means that they’re vulnerable to stuff that kills us all. Guns, for instance. In the U.S., a child is shot at every hour. Even a modest statistical analysis would amount to a staggering number of homeless children being hurt by bullets too, but it’s doubtful that we’ll ever know how many.
Then there’s war, of course. The toll of children killed in Gaza, or made homeless because of the conflict, is still to be tallied, as is those running from the renewed rain of fire coming down in Syria. And, even if it sounds like a cliche, it is a fact that thousands of African children are being hunted like beasts as you read this.
So look closely at them and, if you like, memorize their faces. Also, by all means, check the public record and find out how close you’ve been living all this time from babies, toddlers, and teenagers who will go to sleep hungry tonight, possibly just away from the beaten path of your home street.
And don’t feel bad that you came across this post and didn’t expect to feel so pessimist about your world today, as you do now. We’ve spared you the gory details about runaway kids, prostitution rings, slavery chains, and rampant disease they also drag like metal balls, along with their few, earthly possessions.
We didn’t set up ourselves to ruin your week either. There was just this collection of 12 young lives, portrayed as they waste around, and a bunch of data we’ve devoured about the issue, that we couldn’t help it but share it with you. Perhaps it’s all familiar territory to you, and we won’t ask you why.
In any case, hearts exist to be broken, and awareness to be aroused. We could as well tell you all about how we feel about, you know, life, the universe, and everything, like the late Doug Adams would. Or partake with you some big secret we haven’t told anyone about yet. But as we said, there were ‘they.’
We don’t have a heartwarming ending for this story, only a handful of possible segueways, including those groups already focused on what’s just dawning in your mind right now: what if? And if all this winded ramble leads you to do is to embrace the kids you already have, so be it. They’re still better off with you, then.
* Unprivileged Children
* Fallen Boys
* Skating to Kabul