“A child never chooses the street” Jesuit Father Placido Fonseca who runs a home for children in Bombay tells Fides Service. Nevertheless today the world has more than 100 million street children mainly in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe.
The children find themselves on the streets because of poverty, family problems (abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, alcoholism) or because they are mentally or physically handicapped. They survive by begging, polishing shoes or other small jobs. They often live in city sewers in groups. Many have recourse to prostitution or theft, or become dependent on drugs or glue. Sniffing glue damages kidneys and causes irreversible brain damage and even death. The destiny of these children is obvious: crime, prison, prostitution, slavery, violence, death.
The growing phenomenon of street children is a serious challenge. There is no easy solution. Drastic birth control or indiscriminate repression which these children suffer in many cities are not solutions. Many church communities choose courageously to open homes for the children and give them back their childhood letting them know they are loved. It is necessary however to go to the root of the problem: governments should adopt policies to guarantee work for families to enable them to keep and educate their children and offer them a future.
To call attention to this subject Fides Service has opened a new section ‘street children’ on its web page www.fides.org . We welcome opinions, testimony, experience, figures which can help to promote the health, respect and dignity of these children of God. We invite our readers to send reports, documentation to enrich our new section. (Fides Service 2/9/2003 EM lines 22 Words: 275)