Zambia's Voiceless Generation
Written By: Chief K. Masimba Biriwasha
Photo Credits: None
Just a stone’s throw away from the posh Manda Hill Shopping Mall in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city, little kids mill around traffic lights
sniffing glue and pestering motorists and pedestrians, alike, for money, food and whatever else they can scrounge.
Many of the kids, dressed in filthy rags, are regarded as a menace to society due to their anti-social behaviour. Near the traffic
lights a big poster warns members of the public not to give money or food to the children, euphemistically referred to as ‘street kids’.
According to the poster, giving money or food only causes the children to remain on the street. Put in other words, the social
menace that many of the nouveau rich in this leafy and suburban area fear will continue to grow.
Many of the so-called street kids are part of a generation of children in Zambia that is growing up without parental care, support or
guidance. The children are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and disease.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that there are approximately 1,250,000 orphans in Zambia—that is, one in
every four Zambian children—with about 50% under nine years of age. Orphans are defined as children who have lost one or both
parents. The extended family network, a traditional safety net for orphaned children, is breaking apart due to the enormity of the
HIV/AIDS crisis throughout the country. Additionally, the huge number of orphaned children is overwhelming national health, social
welfare and education systems in Zambia, as in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
Most of the children face a bleak future, without parents to care for them and little, if any, assistance offered by the government.