Zaire’s Street Children
Squall 9, Jan/Feb 1995, pg. 35.
The Pekabo drop-in centre in Kinshasa offers the city’s growing population of street children the chance of medical care, a wash and a rest. The centre does not have the funds to offer food or beds to the children who have, disturbingly, often been thrown out of home after being accused of sorcery.
It seems that witchcraft is the reason used to get rid of children who are a financial burden. If someone in the family falls ill or there is some financial difficulty a child is frequently forced to confess to casting spells.
The current economic crisis in Zaire is destroying traditional supportive extended family values. However, family sizes are not reducing because social standing is measured by the number of children you have and workers at the Pekabo centre say that rather than make the connection between family size and poverty people would rather scapegoat one child. Prior to Zaire’s current crisis there were 8,000 street children (1990 figures). Aid workers say the number is far higher now.