IN THE bustling streets of Lusaka, where poverty and hardship cast shadows upon a group of street children devoid of the comforts most take for granted, a simple meal of Nshima with relish was enough to fill their hearts with unimaginable joy and hope.
As the sun began its descent, casting a golden hue across the horizon, the street children, while sniffing from bottles of Bostik glue were seated in a queue of disorder under the footbridge connecting Church Road and Cairo Road as they eagerly waited for the food distribution.
The food was provided yesterday by BAREMI, (Banja Restoration Missions), a non governmental organization that has made it it’s aim to offer a meal to the vulnerable children once every month.
As the volunteers began distributing the food, the atmosphere transformed.
Smiles blossomed on the faces of the children, their eyes shining with an unmistakable gratitude as the sounds of their laughter mingled harmoniously, creating a symphony of joy.
For a few precious moments, these resilient young souls forgot their hardships and reveled in the simple pleasure of a meal shared with newfound friends.
The children of which some had matured in the streets, shared stories of how they started living on the streets, with most of them citing, verbal and physical abuse, and lack of parents as some the reasons they escaped from their realities onto the streets.
BAREMI president Hendrix Mumba said he was drawn to hel the street kids becaus he and the wife were both orphans at a young age.
And due that experience they established BAREMI this year with the intention to support orphans and vulnerable children through the provision of complementary education, sustenance, shelter, as well as, life survival skills.
Mumba said BAREMI’s vision is to see children off the streets, empowered with life skills and taken to foster parents who will be assisted with some food provisions.
“We have a population of about 20 million Zambians and out of that we are confronted with a distressing scenario, as over 1.2 million orphans and vulnerable children who endure the hardships of going without food, proper shelter and schooling.”
“In desperation, some take to sleeping on the streets and beneath bridges using discarded cardboard boxes as “blankets” to keep themselves warm and scavenge for leftover foods from restaurant waste bins, as well as, begging for alms on the streets” Mumba said.
Mumba said if Zambians were to partner in assisting government to take care of vulnerable children the number of street children will be reduced.
He said people should not stop helping on the premise that some children who are helped go back to the streets, but they should focus in that particular individual that was transformed because of the help and became contributing factor to society.
And BAREMI vice president, Mike Changwe said the organisation had plans to establish a transition center to provide temporary refuge while they prepare them for foster care and education support.
“This center will serve as a safe haven, fostering an environment of healing, reform and spiritual growth for the candidate vulnerable children,” he said.
The number of street children in the country is estimated to be 75,000 and according to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in 2019, the number in Lusaka alone was 30,000.
Meanwhile Mumba said BAREMI is sponsoring 42 orphans and vulnerable children who are being accommodated by the organisation at White Field Christian Academy.
By Moses Makwaya
Kalemba June 11, 2023