Let’s help children smile again this year

Ng’ambo Primary School

Grade Four pupils of Ng’ambo Primary School study under a tree at Seriani in Baringo South on January 4, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Many children no longer had their usual needs met as parents’ income greatly reduced due to economic impacts of the disease.
  • Covid-19 provided an environment for sexual abuse, with children as the main victims, guardians, relatives and, sadly, even their parents, molested them.

Let’s help children smile again this year


Last year was a devastating one — not only for working adults, but also young learners, whose lives were turned around overnight at the discovery of the first Covid-19 case in Kenya.

Children had to be confined within the walls of their home for longer hours due to movement restrictions in fighting the virus. They were denied their fundamental right to play and catch up with their peers as stigma about the disease increased.

Many children no longer had their usual needs met as parents’ income greatly reduced due to economic impacts of the disease. It has been paradise-turned-hell for them. Sadness and silent depression replaced smiles.

Violence

I feel for the children, who had to experience the dark side of domestic violence as marital partners who couldn’t put up with each other anymore resorted to violence to resolve their differences. This had a traumatic effect on children and the psychological torture could follow them for days into the future.

Covid-19 provided an environment for sexual abuse, with children as the main victims, guardians, relatives and, sadly, even their parents, molested them.

The pandemic raised the poverty bar higher, and our young girls fell into the trap of hungry men, who lured them with monetary gifts in exchange for sexual favours. Both saw the girls end up pregnant at extremely young ages, with some contracting sexually transmitted infections, they are now suffering in silence.

It’s unfortunate that children don’t understand how to protect themselves from such evil, but fate made them victims of a year-long pandemic that is continuing.

Normality

Children have missed long school hours. The monotony of staying at home for months on end, instead of the usual three months, has turned our once-happy children into sad creatures. Their mental growth has been affected adversely as school learning and extra-curricular development came to a halt.

This week, the children sigh with relief as they will now go back to the classroom. Parents and teachers have a role to play in helping them to reprogramme back to normality.

Slow learners should be assisted to refresh their memory. Traumatised and depressed learners need guidance and counselling to thrive into the future.

I’ve deep sympathy for the underage girls who ended up pregnant during the ‘holiday’. They need our reassurance and love. The sexually abused need to be reminded that there is still hope and that it will all be okay with time.

As the children go back to class, we owe them happiness. Aren’t they the joy of our homes? Let’s brighten up their lives again as we enter this new year.

Victor Oyuko, via email

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