Girl Who Ran Away from Home in Search of Education

Despite efforts by the Kano State Government at making education free for all girls in the state, some parents still prefer their children to hawk wares on the streets than sent them to school. That is a story of Nana Khadija, who decided to run away from home to get education rather than spend her life on the streets. YAKUBU SALISU reports on the travails of this 13 year-old girl.

According to Nana Khadija Ibrahim a 13-year- old teenager, she decided to run away from her parents, because of her love for education. According to her, she likes going to school, especially every time she wakes up in the morning and sees other children of her age dress up for school. For her, life starts and ends on the streets where she has been condemned to a life of hawking petty wares.
She said she tried to convince her parents but all pleas fell on deaf ears. She said her mother was not loving towards her, as she was always subjected to cruel punishments anytime she fails to sell all the wares for the day.
As a result of frustration, she took the decision to run away from home and trek to Niger State to seek help from her mother’s relations. As she had no money, she decided to embark on the harzardous journey on foot. But suddenly, all her efforts were thwarted as the police at Tsanyawa, a town about 130 kilometres from Niger State intercepted her on the road. After her sad story, the police handed her over to the Hisbah Command of the town, which after further investigations, discovered that the girl’s parents were residing at Dan Dishe, a town in Dala Local Government Area of Kano State. Under the escort of one Abubakar, she was brought to the Dala Command.
There, her parents were invited and the girl handed over to them after they had signed an undertaking that Nana will be enrolled into a school. Furthermore, they undertook not to send her into the streets to hawk petty wares and that Nana must be brought to the command every week for assessment of her progress. Like Khadija, there are other girls hawking on the streets of Kano,who also want their stories and plights heard.
Aisha Abubakar who sells Awara at Janbulo, said she had no option as her parents are too poor to send her to school, even when she loves to acquire education. For now, she is almost the family’s breadwinner. She said she hopes her own children would be lucky to go to school and who knows the situation may change for her and she would be in school like other children of her age. She said, it has not been easy, as some of them are sexually abused by some men while hawking their wares.
Another street hawker, Sadiya Jibrin interviewed at Tal’udu junction, said she travels all the way from Rogo village every day to sell groundnut oil and Kuli Kuli. She has been forced into street hawking as her parents cannot afford to buy the matrimonial bed and other house hold items, whenever she will be given out for marriage. She has to hawk petty items to raise money and save towards her marriage. She admitted that being constantly under the sun is not something she wishes for any child of her age. “What choice do I have since I was not born with silver spoon”, she said.
A woman, Malama Zainab who resides at Dorayi quarters, however said the reason why some children hawk on the streets is because of the errornous belief that a woman’s education ends up in the husband’s kitchen. Most times when they marry, their husbands will not allow them to work. So what is the need training them in school when they can help their families raise money through hawking petty wares? She said, although poverty contributes much to the plight of these young girls, she does not attach much importance to the education of girls. This made Daily Times to contact the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Hisbah Board Malam Muhammad Yusuf, who said it is wrong for parents to shirk their responsibilities over to their children.
He said it is the duty of parents, especially fathers to provide for the needs of the family and not forcing their children onto the streets to hawk petty goods. He said such act amounts to child abuse. Yusuf said that poverty should not be reason for abusing the human rights of children. “Parents must remember that Allah has saddled them with the responsibility of taking care of their children both financially, religiously, socially and morally. As such, Allah will ask them on the last day what they did with the children he gave them”.
According to him whether school is free or not, the father must bear the cost of training his children. He said the board from time to time records cases of young girls who are molested while hawking and the board has always tried to educate parents on the dangers such pose to their children. What happens to a female child could also happen to a male child, there should be no exemption, “he said.
His assistant, Abukakar Mati, said he was moved with tears when the girl was brought to them. He said it is unthinkable that a mother who laboured to give birth should be maltreating the same child. He said he and his other officers will not relent in doing Allah’s work. He said his command will ensure that the parents keep to their promise, even as he advised them to look after their children as they are “Amana “given to them by Allah.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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