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Am I the man of the house or am I a child? From LebJournals

A question seldom asked by working juveniles. Those children, upon which we perform case studies and psychological analysis, tend to form one of the most controversial issues in the Lebanese streets.

From a humanitarian point of view it is sad, but effectively some people find it logical. Over here we’re not talking about gum sellers and window knocker, we’re particularly targeting those children working in car mechanics, metal industries, and even carpentry. Those wage earners who become to some extent family keepers.

People may argue that this issue is out of argumentation and should be immediately banned, but let’s play the devil’s advocate for a moment and look at the situation from within the street walls. We’re in a country whose economic recession has hit its poorest classes and people are continuously suffering from hunger and deprivation; doesn’t it make some logic to sacrifice one child so that his family moves from hunger to bare sufficiency? Yet is it logical that those children are deprived from schooling and education? Is their exposure to hazardous chemicals logical?

The scene is bad enough, young children, below 15 years of age, suffering anemia, high blood lead levels, injuries, health problems due to high exposure to pesticides, solvents, hazardous chemicals, destructive noise….an endless list in a devastating environment.

Yes they are STREET WISE! Yes they are independent! Yes they are courageous, with all the questioned privileges that come along with work.

Those children are deprived from their maturity progress, their education, their entitled protection, their right of being CHILDREN!

Those sad figures that we encounter in case studies, they call them self portraits, those drawn by the children themselves, lonely, helpless, joyless, expressionless… All these raise hundreds of questions! why would this child draw himself neck bowed? lonely? Maybe because he is not able to figure out what is he exactly? The MAN of the house or its CHILD?

Giving those children a life depends on giving our country a reputable social affairs policy, whose function is not to ban such activities, but provde alternatives. Solutions rely on deputes who care about the welfare of the people instead of their politics! Deputes who dare to talk about economics and social affairs instead of fighting for ministerial posts.

Until then, those children are still working, they deserve all our due respect, they were courageous enough to choose to sacrifice their lives for their families. We are the ones who ought to be neck bowed in front of their choices.

Finally, from behind their expressionless eyes, I ask their mostly unanswered question: “Till when are we going to sacrifice our health, our well being, and our FUTURE?”

Sarah Hajj

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