Amidst the vibrant landscapes and rich culture of Africa, the harsh reality of child hunger and unsafe water persist as a complex challenge with multifaceted origins. 26% globally do not have access to clean water while in 821 million people, one in nine goes to bed on an empty stomach and some of the families and the students from The Other Side Foundation For OVCs are not excluded.

This article covers the Day to Day Lives of our vulnerable children at the Other Side Foundation School. In this article we are highlighting the life of our 17 years old Shadrach who is a double orphan who first lost the mother when he was in grade five. Since then his life has never been the same regardless of being left with the father. The father was a perpetual drunkard who could not take care of his children. The boy’s day starts as early as 5:00 am where he first of all reports to a Rwandan employer who owns a shop. As part timer Shadrach would go and order groceries for his employer and later on comes back home to do some home chores then prepare for school.

Early this year, he lost his father during the Cholera outbreak which hit our country, Zambia. In as much as the father was not at all responsible his death had created a very devastating situation for Shadrach and his siblings. This unforeseen situation has left the boy at the mercy of circumstances beyond his control. He carries on staying in the one roomed accommodation which has no electricity and running water that his father left him with. He has 2 other siblings but due to their hardship they are separated; a younger brother has been adopted by an NGO which schools and provides for all his needs while his sister was taken back to their village. It is quite sad to learn that the boy has one blanket and sleeps on a rough cold floor. In this cold winter period the child has to endure the coldness, sometimes he buys pre-packed charcoal for K5 (Zambian Kwacha) to keep his room warm which only lasts for a day or night.

Shadrach rarely has breakfast, the meal prepared at school is the only meal of the day for him. On Saturdays and Sundays he usually eats once to maintain his savings to pay up for his monthly rentals. After school, Shadrach still needs to go back to the shop to continue with his temporary work with his Rwandan employer. Whilst the father was alive, he learned a skill of sieve-making (refer to video below) which he no longer does due to the high cost of materials used hence opted to work for his Rwandan employer.

Generally all of us agree that the normal routine of a child anywhere in world would be , most of the time waken up by his/her parents or expected to wake up at certain reasonable time to prepare to go to school, they would make their beds, most likely they would brush their teeth, have a shower, have a quick breakfast, and off to school. Some may even be taken to school by their parents in a car, some children may hop on to a school bus or for others they may be provided with transportation money and sometimes even money for break time in school or packed lunch.

Very often they come home also to warm meal after school prepared for them by their mothers or their mothers would have already planned an event to keep them occupied or do their homework. However, this is not the case for most of the OVCs The Other Side Foundation School (TOSF) looks after. In the case of Shadrach’s daily life, there is no reflection of any privilege that other children enjoy but all we can see is the harsh reality casting it’s shadow across all spectrum of his life. This is so because poverty has stood so tall as a primary culprit in this teenager’s life which is eventually casting a long and dark shadow over the well being of Shadrach. It is beyond comprehension for many children to live Shadrach’s life.

It is painful to see the kind of harsh life and living conditions that he has to face at such a tender age. However, understanding the root causes for this harsh lifestyle it is pivotal in formulating effective strategies to address and eradicate such predicament as that of Shadrach’s. But child hunger and unclean water intertwined with other brutal unforeseen circumstances are a pervasive issue that transcends boarders, affecting many developing countries especially in sub-Sahara regions

Furthermore as we look closer into the hardship of such children we do not have to underscore the scale of this matter but instead emphasize the urgency of concrete efforts to address them. This is because the repercussions of hunger especially for a child extends and goes far beyond the pangs of just going on empty stomach. It also jeopardize their physical health, hindering proper growth and development. Cognitive abilities are also compromised, limiting educational achievement and of course perpetuating a cycle of poverty

It is for this reason that we at TOSF want to highlight the plight of these children who are similar victims of the story being shared above. Henceforth, only a collective effort is required from all of us to really address the root causes and bring about a sustainable change that will put a smile on a child mentioned in this article. Let us take this leap to give forward by rescuing this young teenager from this inhumane living condition.

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