Leago Pholas notes that, “The future, all over the world, lies in the youth.” Many at times we are interested in rural tourism, but we forget to really interrogate and imagine what it really mean to be poor, disillusioned and hopeless especially at a young generation. Tourists come, take pictures and they go. Humanitarian organisations come, give food handouts and they go. Well-wishers come and pay school fees for one term and they vanish into the thin air. Politicians come and promise ‘free universal primary education’, we clap hands, ululate and break into song and dance.Worringly,the situation of the poor, innocent children remain the same if not worse.
In my life I have seen rural children who chew the same gum without any fear of gum diseases. Personally, this to me shows a deep sense of sharing, care, love and oneness. On the other hand, it may be viewed as a sign of lack and deep poverty. I also grew up in such a continent in which we grew up as children sharing the same mango or guava fruit. We could make sure everyone had a cheerie bite. This is a continent plagued with high poverty levels, characterised by high inequality within the social fabric of our society. A continent were young children sleep on empty stomachs. A continent where we grew up, without even celebrating our birthdays. Children in this continent don’t even know how to blow candles and how to cut cakes.
This is a continent were child labour is rampant. Children do not go to school. Their lives are touching. But behind all the poverty they can still afford to smile at you. Beneath their tender and genuine smiles they radiant their hope and wish of a brighter future.