Young child begs instead of going to school

Dear Editor,                          

I cannot escape the daily sight of a desperate and helpless child in need of an education, yet he is joyfully embraced by his mentally challenged mother who daily seeks sympathy from a sometimes hostile public while being exposed to the wrath of the weather.

This unfortunate routine takes place in full view of the Anna Regina office and that of the Department of Labour and Social Security on the Essequibo coast. While the mother’s economic situation may be testing and beyond her means to rectify, it is very sad to witness an innocent child with hands outstretched appealing to anyone for help, whether in blistering sun or torrential rain. The irony of this compelling scene is that the kid is dressed neatly in a school uniform every day, but receives his schooling at the Anna Regina car park where he learns the indecent language of alcohol drinkers and flirts with danger among speeding hire car drivers who will suddenly move into gear in pursuit of passengers. He has been there for almost his entire life since he graduated from the arms of his mother, and he is now about four years old. While the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security was swift to intervene in the cases of a few young boys on the Essequibo Coast, perhaps changing their fortunes, it is surprising that the authorities for so long have not been able to give guidance in this instance, when the Convention of the Rights of the Child is being violated.

While this particular scene has caught my attention, and will damage the future development of the child involved, there are growing challenges in isolated parts of the Essequibo coast including in the interior villages. Child labour and child abuse are a growing phenomenon globally, although sometimes child labour is the only means of economic survival for a family. However, we cannot be spectators to this evil trend, nor can the mentally challenged mother referred to above stand in the way of her child receiving a basic education.

I therefore make a fervent appeal to the relevant authorities to intervene and perhaps ensure for a start that the kid has a joyful Christmas and then a busy new year, not with begging hands but with books which will chart his destiny towards literacy.

Yours faithfully,
Elroy Stephney

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