Dabbling with danger – a daily struggle for street kids

Peter Solomo says sleeping on the street is one side of a coin with two options, both grim.

POLOKWANE – Living on the street is not as cut and dry as people may think. This is according to Peter Solomo, a 16-year-old boy who lives on the streets of Polokwane.
Peter says there are no children on the street, just men of different ages and sizes.
“You don’t have the time to cry on the street. You don’t have the time to be lonely. You just have the time to grow up and man up,” he explains.
He says the younger street kids sleep in different areas, away from the bigger men. This is done to keep them from getting beaten up or even raped. “We stand together on the street, look out for each other but sometimes you have to fight for yourself,” he continues.
Spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, Adelé van der Linde, tells Review it is a fact that there are homes and shelters that provide for children who find themselves living on the street but many of them choose to live on the street.

She says they’ve attempted to give people refuge at places such as the Samaritan House but they do not stay long. “In the house, you have food, a safe place to sleep and clean water to drink and bath in,” says Van der Linde. But many of the children who live on the street are the only bread winners for younger siblings and therefore have to find ways to make money. “Money is needed and in the house, you cannot make money,” she explains.

According to Peter, no one likes to live on the street but many are forced into this lifestyle because they have people who depend on them. He says it is a double-edged sword as living on the street teaches you hard lessons and allows you to find ways of earning money but it is dangerous and a tough way to live your life.

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Riana Joubert

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