Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dispatches 5: The Kids

What I have been amazed with here in terms of poverty is not the unpaved roads but the children. I don't mean people begging with their kids which is prevelent, actually they teach kids as young as one to say "hello"and put there hands out asking for money. What is really obvious is the young kids working. There are the ones that are with their families and begging or helping out with their parents. Then there are the kids who are selling you things. Usually books but it could be anything. I'm talking 11, 12 at night 5 -10 year olds often without shoes trying to sell you books. I had been watching them and wondering what the story was.

Are there parents sending them out? Is it organised? Well last night gave me my answer. Around midnight, this guy riding a western style red shiny moterbike drives up outside where I'm sitting for a drink. Three young girls run over to him. He looks down at them in his full camoflogue outfit and a stern face and demands money. The hand him some american cash. He counts it and makes a few remarks. The three girls quickly explain why there is little and point around at the never empty bars. He doens't look at them at all and drives away. There is no confusing this situtation. He's basically their pimp. One of the girls after this grabs a young boy with no shoes to help her sell stuff, it is valentines day after all, they should get a few sympanthy roses sold.

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