Child street vendors: Meeting Pitshou, 14 years

Child reporters interviewing child street vendors, Lubumbashi, DRCCHILD REPORTER – My colleague José and I, Melina, are 16 years old. We are child reporters in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. We decided to go meet child street vendors in the streets of our town. Why are they working instead of studying? This is our report.

Child street vendors in Lubumbashi

In the Lubumbashi city centre, there are many children who spend the day selling small items: bagged water, brooms, biscuits, plastic bagchikwanges , toasted peanuts, etc.

As far as we know, these children became street vendors to make money in order to provide for their needs, as well as the needs of their families. All, or nearly all, of them have abandoned their schooling in order to focus solely on their work, while other children go to school.

My friend and I, we are interested in these children, because each day that passes they are less likely to return to school and achieve their dreams for the future. They also risk many dangers, such as injuring themselves or being abused by police officers who chase illegal vendors away from the Lubumbashi town centre and neglet to treat the children carefully.

Child street vendors, Lubumbashi, DRC

Among the child street vendors, Pitshou really interested us

He’s a boy of short stature telling his story with clarity and courage. He tells it next to some other children who are his friends.

Pitshou lives with his parents and attended school, like us. But one morning, his parents asked him not to go to school because due to a lack of funds, they were no longer able to afford his school fees. Pitshou’s parents also asked him to sell chikwangues in the street in order to provide for the family. Their son was only 11 years old.

Pitshou’s dream in the face of his reality

Today, Pitshou shared with us that he no longer hopes to fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor and living a good life as an adult. “How can I become a doctor some day when I do not go to school? ”.

Pitshou is not the only one in the town of Lubumbashi, there are numerous child street vendors who spend their days on the street. They are mostly between the ages of 8 and 17, both girls as well as boys.

Pitshou, a chil street vendor in Lubumbashi, DRC

Child street vendors remain hopeful

They all have one common denominator: they stop attending school against their own will. Pitshou and his four friends are not losing hope, they wish to some day fulfil their dreams once they have the chance to return to school.

This is also the hope of many children in the same conditions, scattered across the city of Lubumbashi and the Haut Katanga province.

This is our plea, we are counting on you

Faced with this situation, we are asking parents to fulfil their obligations: educate your children, do not sacrifice their future.

For those who are in authoritative positions, we are asking you to provide basic education for all children in the DRC, in accordance with the provisions found in Article 28 of the Relative Convention on Human Rights which stipulates that “All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free”.

And to our readers, please share Pitshou’s story and spread our message. Thank you.

Child reporters interviewing child street vendors, Lubumbashi, DRC

Melina is a Child Reporter from Lubumbashi, where she studies in 5th humanity. Aged 16, she dreams of becoming an accountant in a large corporation. Mélina decided to engage as Child Reporter as she could see that the rights of children were not respected all around her. Melina is the eldest daughter of her family and spends most of her time studying, helping her mother and caring for her younger brothers and sisters.

Translated from French by Alexandria Harris

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