Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 19th, 2024

Poverty and Child Labor

On a burning day of summer, his face was saturated with sweat, his disheveled hair; messy clothes with patches on them and exhausted expression on his face were the displays of his poverty and drudgery. He was wandering in streets with a sack on his back in search of waste paper and sometimes asking the shopkeepers imploringly to give their waste cartons. His struggle for not to miss a single piece of paper, made one think that if he goes home with empty hands, his old mother is likely to argue him. Perhaps, his mother also was out somewhere in search of flour. “May I know your name?” I asked. He gave me imploring look cleaning the drops of sweat from his forehead with a sigh of exhaustion and said, “My name is Ali Ahmad.” Do you go to school? I continued. “Yes, I study in seventh grade. In the morning I go to school and in the afternoon I collect garbage for selling.” I asked, “How old are you?” “I am seventeen years old,” Ahmad replied. His eyes followed me for some seconds with surprise, wanting to ask me if I was a government official who has come out to see and touch the pain of poor children. I hung my head and left.
I was walking, lost in thought that how the fate of life is playing with many Afghan children. How harshly the backbreaking labors touch the fair skin of children in our country. The abject poverty, which has opened its mouth wide to swallow the innocent children is highly irritant. When I was picturing the sad and exhausted image of Ali Ahmad, who was suffering severely in the wake of poverty, I was embittered. Of course, it is not only Ali Ahmad but many more children like him are suffering as a result of poverty and destitution, even though, it is too early for them to be charged with household chores and shoulder the big responsibility of bringing bread.
Mostly, childhood memories are very sweet and unforgettable. Children are always busy with their childish games in the streets and enjoy their times free of sorrows. They are filled with joy regardless of anything happening around them. They are competing to get a greater share of pleasure and happiness. Resounding laughter, happy shouts, careless noises, friendly jokes, childish games… are all childhood sweet memories which will remain forever. But, what about Afghan children? Happiness has turned to roughly an unlikely desire for them. Their childhood memories are replete with sorrow and depression. Nothing will be bitter than wandering of a child in tortuous streets with sorrowful eyes in search of a morsel of food to alleviate the pressure of hunger for some more minutes. What if, at the same time, a child of a rich family smirks and laughs at you? Do you know more painful memories than this?
Afghan children wince at their bitter childhood memories and try to get rid of them. But how is it possible to forget all those economic sufferings which forced them to give up all happiness and find a morsel of food by hook or by crook.  Whenever those days are pictured in one’s mind, the footsteps are still heard walking in search of food on the streets. The howling memories which pinch the minds and force tears in the eyes of Afghan children are very excruciating.  
Mostly the rise in crime is a reflection of poor society. Crime originates in poverty and destitution. It is believed that poverty will empty one of moral values. Individuals are most likely to succumb to criminal acts as a result of abject poverty. It is crystal clear that the children who join terrorist networks and criminal groups come from poor families. Likewise, many girls who commit moral corruptions are mostly tempted by money rather than pleasure. In addition, many others abandon schools and universities for the lack of money and finally remain illiterate. Their illiteracy will drag them to crime, which will be an irreparable harm to the society.
The government is responsible to alleviate poverty and work for the betterment of the community. If government intends to root out crime from the society, reducing poverty and providing job opportunities for the youth can play a highly significant role in this regard.
Child labor also roots in poverty.  Parents feel compelled by economic pressure to ask the support of their children by putting them in manual labors. Therefore, government is supposed to play its role in preventing child abuse by amending the economic system in the country and providing job for the citizens.
Economy is the backbone of a society. Government has to remove corruption and work for poverty alleviation. I emphasize that nepotism, arbitrary rules and regulations, corruption etc., which are rampant in our country, must be eradicated. Likewise, the vacancies should not be always offered to moneyed and powerful people rather than qualified individuals. Concrete steps must be taken to remove administrative corruptions and support meritocracy.