I was driving past the Tema Station (Lorry Park) in Accra on Tuesday, December 24, at about 8:40 p.m. and what I saw simply knocked me off!
What I observed could aptly be described as NAKED POVERTY on �display� on Christmas eve - literally.
I saw full-bodied young women bathing in the open, stark naked. That was happening in the 21st Century. Unbelievable!
I learnt that the young women were head porters, who had travelled to Accra to work to improve their lives.
From what I saw, it was quite obvious that their lives were not getting any better. This is because I believe strongly that in their various hometowns from where they had come to Accra to hassle for a �good life� they were not bathing in the open.
So, I asked myself: Why have we got things so wrong that some of our people have been robbed of their �basic� sense of dignity in the face of cold penury?
Indeed, the current poor socio-economic situation in the country has forced many Ghanaians to literally butcher their self-esteem to a point where some people can throw off their clothes and expose their PRIVATE parts to the world without batting an eye. Whaaat?!
Just a few metres from where the women were bathing, some men were also spotted urinating in the open, with their genitals partly exposed.
A friend tells me that the homeless head porters and the other hustlers in the Accra Central District attend to the call of nature (go to toilet) along the beach just across the John Evans Atta Mills Street, not very far from the Tema Station.
Recently, The Mirror published an article that pointed to the fact that about 60 years ago when the paper first hit the news-stands, many young Ghanaians were sleeping outside, in front of shops. More than half a century after that, young Ghanaians are still sleeping and bathing outside in the open.
As we celebrate Christmas and the New Year, the churches, government and other organisations are wishing Ghanaians Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The question is: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to whom?
I guess the messages are directed at members of the middle and upper classes of society because they are the ones who have a lot of food and drinks to savour and even dump plenty left-overs in the dustbins.
Obviously, the chief executive officers of companies, top management staff and senior officers, who make 10 times more than what the ordinary Ghanaian worker earns, are the ones who would enjoy the holidays; because I do not see how lowly-paid workers can have a Merry Xmas in December and still cough up hundreds of cedis to pay school fees for their children and wards in January.
The Minister of Youth and Sports and his counterpart at the Gender, Children and Social Protection Ministry; religious leaders, traditional rulers and anybody who cares about the future of this country should step out at night during the holidays and see the shocking conditions in which many homeless Ghanaian children are living.
They will find out that it is difficult for the children to find a safe place to play. They also do not have �Christmas food� to eat and �Christmas clothes� to wear.
The street is no place for a child to live and obviously not a place to have a Merry Xmas And a Happy New Year.
Some of the young people on the street are mothers and fathers and obviously they and their very young children may not have good times during the holidays. They will try their best for their sons and daughters, but it will be very, very tough for them.
These young parents and their children share small mats at night. The children are forced to eat on the floor. The young girls are threatened with sexual violence and so on and so forth. This should not be happening in 21st century Ghana!
Seriously, the government must, as a matter of urgency, introduce workable plans to reduce the high level of homelessness among the youth.
The need for social housing should be a national priority. The government may not be able to offer poor families bed and breakfast accommodation but with the growing demand for social housing and the chronic shortage of affordable housing, this is the time for the government to move to help keep families together, with a roof over their heads.
Happy holidays. To whom?
Source: William A. Asiedu / The Mirror - [email protected] / Follow me on Twitter @WillieAsiedu.
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