Children of the Street: The Lost Generation of the Nation

M. Syahruzzaky Romadloni
Siliwangi University, Indonesia

His name is Adi, a fifteen-year-boy living in metropolitan city Jakarta. He is one of many children of nation who fight against the complexity of life through living in the wild life of the streets. Most of his days are spent there, collecting the pennies of rupiahs. His guitar seems to be the one weapon he has to survive, for he depends his life on singing songs in the city streets. In a day, Adi should hop from one bus to another from morning till evening.

Thing becomes worse when the weather of the day isn’t friendly to his day. The extreme heat and the heavy raining often accompany his journey of raising coins. He should go on; otherwise, he won’t eat on that day.

Life, in Adi’s opinion, seems to be a curse as he should work night and day for raising pennies. He has no mother giving him a smooth love while his father disappears going to place he never knows. His friends are the crowd while his toys are the day’s heat. No time for him to relax, if so, life will beat him.

Despite his young age, Adi should support his life alone, for nobody takes care of him. He has no home to live in, which will protect him from heat and raining. When he’s sick, no doctor will treat him. When he is hungry, he couldn’t find any food to eat. He is the one thinking of him.

The freedom of choice of how to conduct this life has been closed to Adi and his relatives. He actually never expects to be like he is now, but the circumstance forces him to be. Of course, if the choice is given to him, he wants to feel what others feel, enjoying the joy of life without worrying of how to eat in the next day. Unfortunately, he never knows when the good fate comes before him.

***

Ali, a fourteen-year-boy, never expects to feel the life like he’s conducting now. He actually isn’t lack of anything, except for love and attention. He has everything which everyone still dreams of it. Big house, car, motorcycle, and other life tools are ready to serve him anytime. He, however, never feels happy having those stuffs.

Those life tools aren’t worth, for Ali loses the love and attention from his parents since he was born. Since both of them work day and night, he never feels the smooth love from them. Even though his parents ever say that they work for his welfare, he never feels happy for that.

His house seems to be the hell for him, so he looks for other shelter in the streets. His friends of the street welcome him very smoothly and he really feels the real love there. Unfortunately, what he does in the street destroys his life as he lives for nothing. It becomes more serious, when he tries some addictive drugs introduced by his friends.

***

Adi and Ali are typical children of our nation which exist in many regions. Even though they live in different context, they are in the same situation that they fail to see this life in positive side. The world seems to be dark and it couldn’t give them any hope. They, however, couldn’t be blamed for this as there are many people who are actually responsible for giving them the care and attention, so they can be freed from this bad situation.

Adi is an example of million children living in the wild life of the streets. Their existence often becomes the trouble before the government, for they not only disturb ‘the comfort’ of the city but the threat for its stability as well. Therefore, we often see the government police rudely catch them in the street ignoring their messed condition.

The amount of children of the street in Indonesia increases year-by-year. A survey conducted by Atmajaya Catholic University in 1996 showed that there were 36,000 children of the street in 12 regions. In 2008, their amount is predicted to be over than 100,000. They live in different jobs such as beggars, cleaners, street musicians, etc.

Children like Adi lose their right to get a basic education, for their parents couldn’t afford to pay such large school’s fees. Books are too expensive to buy, while school uniform seems to be an exclusive thing for them. Unfortunately, government has no serious attention to their existence as the asset of the nation.

Instead of schooling, they are spreading in the streets begging, selling, singing, etc. When the children in their age study and play, they should make money through extreme activities. They often ignore their safety when working, for no one would take care of them upon their miserable condition.

What we’re worried about is that they are close to the crime such as children abuses and the misusage of addictive drugs. We still remember the child abuse conducted by Babeh who raped and killed more than 14 children in seven years. It proves that children of the street are easy to be the objects of child abuse, for they have no parents who monitor and protect them from this case. They often work without parents’ monitor, so the criminal can catch them easily.

Many children of the street have the problem with the misusage of addictive drugs. They usually begin from the trial of consuming these drugs, and then become addicted. Unfortunately, they often don’t have any rupiahs to buy these expensive drugs, so they choose other substitute drugs to consume such as glue. Ngelem is a customary term used to indicate their activity of inhaling glue. Many experts say that the effect of ngelem is more dangerous than consuming drugs.

In another world, Ali and his relatives are the victims of parents’ abuse which ignore giving them enough love and care. Parents are too busy to give them love whereas it is the most important thing children need in their life. Love is considered the soul which evokes children’s spirit in conducting life. As soon as it disappears, they will face this life miserably.

The street then becomes their second home where they can find the smoothness of love and care. Thier friends seem to substitute parents’ role so they will do what their friends ask. This friendship, unfortunately, tends to act some negative activities which will destroy their future. Schooling then will be neglected as they have found the joy of life in this way.

***

The problem of the children of the street in somehow it forms concerns us very much as we believe that they are part of the existence of the nation in the future. Children today are leaders tomorrow. Our ignorance of this case will probably make them a lost generation of the nation.

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