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Coronavirus in Kenya: the resurgence of begging children with school closings

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Schools have been closed since March 15. As the coronavirus epidemic continues to spread, President Kenyatta announced Monday that schools will not reopen until January. A heavy decision for families already hard hit by the crisis. One of the consequences in Nairobi, the capital: the resurgence of begging children in the streets.

On Waiyaki Way, the main artery of the city, everyone knows the hawkers. These street vendors take advantage of traffic jams to sell miscellaneous items and food to stranded drivers. But in recent weeks, children have appeared along the roads. Steven is only 10 years old. With his clothes ragged and a tired cloth, he cleans the windows against a few shillings.

He says he takes the bus every morning from Kariobangi, 15 km away. It was his mother who asked him to come here because there is no money or food left in the house. Steven confides that if he ever refuses, she hits him. ”  I don’t like to come and beg. I would prefer to stay at home. I miss school  , ”says the young Kenyan, looking at his feet.

The coronavirus and government restrictions have hit the economy hard. Many have lost their jobs or suffered a drop in income. The closure of schools also forces families to take care of the children permanently. A situation which explains why Gabriel, 13, zigzags between cars to beg instead of being at his school.

Her parents lost their jobs. The family has run out of money and sometimes they don’t eat for a day. Gabriel describes a difficult situation, where some drivers let him clean but don’t give him anything. Others shout that they have the Covid-19 to keep it away. Added to this is the fact that everyone will resume in the same class next year. Which will delay his dream of one day becoming an airline pilot.

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