A few years ago I watched a documentary on Almajiri, in which one of the boys asked about his future ambition curiously replied that- he wanted to become the governor of his state.
The magnanimity of this audacious hope quickly reminded me of former U.S President, Barak Obama’s self-description in his book: ‘the audacity of hope’ where he demonstrated how a black man of mixed heritage whose forefathers were subjugated and stigmatized dreamt of becoming the president of the United States.
The callous state of Almajiri alongside other disadvantaged children in Nigeria lends credence to the debate of waste of human resource bedeviling this country specifically the Northern part.
Statistics have it that about 9.5 million Almajiris exist in Nigeria. There are several other vulnerable children that also suffer from the same compromised childhood however not included. Perhaps because they live within their locales, so they are considered part of the society when in real sense they are disconnected. Basically, they are orphans and children from poorer families. They occupy the street of our cities as hawkers, beggars or simply street urchins.
In another revelation, in Nigeria about 10.5 million children aged between five and fourteen years are out of school with the North also having the most colossal share. One of the reasons for this ugly development as claimed by UNICEF is poverty.
The compelling effect of early poverty on these children makes them lower their zeal for good
education, mentorship and self-esteem. They become timid due to the struggling childhood they are going through. They learn to be poor, controlling their aspirations to rhyme with their parents or caregivers’ economic status.
Though everyone lives to fulfill his destiny; it is observed that children from wealthy families
tend to be smarter and have brighter future than their counterpart from struggling families. However, many wealthy individuals struggled hard in their early stage but issues are based on binding consensus. Even when it is otherwise, the struggling adult may wish to possess those basic things early poverty deprived him, like decent accommodation and good ride when his counterpart is trying to expand his investment.
This is not an attempt to erode hope from the hearts of these vulnerable children. Rather, to charge the elites to have the spirit of paying back to their communities because studies have shown that mentorship is that one thing children need to actualize their dreams. Through mentorship, the fear in them will be neutralized and their dreams will have fertile ground to grow. Absolving children from the effect of early poverty is very important due to the sensitivity of that development stage. That is the stage they seriously need basic education and mentorship.It is expected that if they are well monitored at this stage, they will have unadulterated adulthood. It is equally paramount to ensure that they stay happy and healthy at this stage in order to save them from malnutrition.
Finally, policy makers should also enforce free and compulsory basic education and check
malnutrition challenges in vulnerable children through free feeding in school and distributing take home food packages at closing hours. Philanthropists should also widen their philanthropic scope to accommodate welfare for vulnerable children especially girl-child.
Remember, We can only feel secure when our neighbors are also happy and healthy.