in particular fall ill, the family income can drop to nothing
and without a social safety net, many children turn to the
streets simply to survive or are driven into urban areas after
the loss of both parents.
As one 15 yr old Zambian boy stated "I [have] lived like this since 2001 when [my] parents died. I
sleep in ditches. If I see people carrying plastic bags, I ask
to help. They give anything, maybe 1,000 kwacha [UK 18p], maybe
As with many children who turn to life on the streets, many
seek solace in blocking out the physical and emotional pain by
turning to substance misuse. In Zambia one such form of abuse
highlights just how desperate their plight is.
visit sewage ponds and fill plastic bottles with raw sewage. In
the heat the sewage ferments to form what is known locally as 'Jenkem',
a methane based substance which can then be inhaled causing
hallucinations. As one 16 yr old boy reported "With glue, I just hear voices
in my head. But with Jenkem, I see visions. I see my mother who
is dead and I forget about the problems in my life."
The government, together with NGOs, has been
attempting to address the increasing problem not least by
placing some of the street children into training centres run by
the Zambia National Service, however the programs are short
lived and most of the children return to the streets having no
where to peddle any skills gained in an economy where 60% of the
urban population are unemployed.
One young person who underwent the process
lamented "If they [government] want me to leave [the streets],
let them also give me job. They take me to camp, they teach me
English, they teach me to make beds, to make chairs; but they
don’t give me a job after. They give me tools. I sold them for a
cheap price. So, I have come back to start begging again,
nothing has changed. I have no supporter [sponsor], I beg to
This video documentary further explores the
situation of young street children in Zambia.