CRushed young

KILLING THEM BEFORE THEY HAVE EVEN LIVED

For some time now, Multimedia Group Ghana has been running a campaign on road safety in a quest to reduce mortality on our roads. As part of their efforts, they released a documentary last week titled, “Crushed young”. The documentary chronicles the lives of children who have been crushed by vehicles , some to death and others being maimed for life. The worrying statistic from the documentary was that 6 children died every week from road accidents, accounting for 300 lives lost to road accidents, 300 families who mourn the loss of a child and many more having to deal with caring for a child with increased vulnerability.

The average Ghanaian lives on the benevolence of friends and family when calamity strikes. As a country we do not have a reliable social security system.

This is my experience. Growing up, my dad always walked me to school. We lived about 2km from my school and the school did not have a bus to transport its pupils from a collection point to school. Neither did we have a dedicated driver who could take me to and fro school like is a common phenomenon now. So every morning, my dad would get ready, walk me to school and would then continue to work. (Side note: this explains why I walk fast. Cos I had to run most times to keep up with my dad who had a fast pace. Till date, walking slowly bores me). When school closed, an older sibling would come pick all of us kids who lived in the same neighborhood, or another parent who worked close by, would walk us home in safety. On this particular day, after my dad had walked me to school and left, I was asked to go home to collect the remainder of my school fees. It was a day of trade which meant my mum was not at home but in the market and my dad was at work. So I had to walk to the market to collect the money from my mum. The distance from my school to the market was around 3.5km. I cannot remember if an adult had helped me cross the road closest to our school. But I did walk from school to the market unaided. I was in lower primer and may have been around 5 or 6 years, same age as the accident victim in the documentary.

I got to the market and my mum was so furious to see me because she could not believe than an adult had been careless enough to let a 6 year old walk unaided through a busy area. She walked me back to the school and you can trust me, the teacher in question had a fair share of my mum’s anger and criticism. At that age, I did not understand what was going on and may have even thought my mum may have overreacted. But what happened between my mum and the teacher was enough to ensure that the teacher in question did not want to have anything to do with me. Unfortunately, the teacher in question was my class teacher and it was a year of ignoring me and treating me like I did not exist. She made it a point to not acknowledge my presence both in class and on the field, whatever I did, was of no interest to her. For my mum trying to protect her child, the teacher channeled her anger towards me for a year (Yeah , she hated me, and she avoided me like a plaque).

After seeing this documentary, I remember this day vividly and I now understand my mum’s anger towards the teacher in question. She was doing what every mother would have done in her shoes, protecting her child. She was not going to allow anyone put her child in harm’s way because she owed fees. Whatever the case, my parents always ensured that my fees were payed before the term ended.

Running a school is not cheap, even public schools that get support from the government have their own share of hardships, but it would do us a lot of good if we put a human face to every decision we take. Its okay to demand that parents pay the fees of their wards, but do not put the child in harm’s way over failure of a guardian to fulfill their responsibilities. The child is only a victim of the situation. At the end of the day, it is not just numbers, it is human lives, faces behind the numbers.

The statistic is only a number until it hits close to you.

Let’s preserve the lives of our kids. If we kill them all through road crashes, then we are better of not having them because we cannot protect them. It is our duty as a society to protect the vulnerable. It is only a reflection of what we value.

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