I am running a late, very late… but I couldn’t be bothered because I am thoroughly entertained. A few months ago, I was in the biggest accident that I have ever caused, I was driving recklessly and ended up writing off my car.
At first the thought of getting around was a schlep especially given that I live in Cape Town and walking on the cities pavements can be compared to walking through someone’s kitchen, bathroom and more often than not bedroom. The pungent smell of urine and feces reminds you what the real world is like and I guess who needs coffee when that entire stench is ready for you every morning.
There is hardly any taxi to town from where I stay, but after a while you figure out the logistics you eventually get to where you are going. On this particular day however I wasn’t running late for work or a meeting, I was more or less going on a date and well my lateness was of no real consequence.
I must say though that I was beginning to enjoy not driving, the long walks had a great effect on my waistline and the commuting proved for many an interesting morning. And by interesting I mean anything from homeless people exposing them selves to me, drag queens vomiting on the side of the road after a big night out, blind beggars on wheel chairs who all of a sudden can see and walk, police brutality around the Milnerton area and so much more.
On this particular Tuesday I was actually entertained by something of a different nature. I decided to catch a bus to Summer Greens (a nearby township) and from there, I was to catch a taxi to town. This may have contributed to my lateness. After the taxi had circled the small township of Summer Greens at least five times, it drove to another nearby township called Joe Slovo, where next to a dilapidated spaza stood a rather rotund boy who was between the ages of 10 and 12.
The rather chubby little man was signaled by the driver to come to the taxi and as he wobbled over most vigorously I couldn’t help, but ask myself why he was not at school. I later realised that it was school holidays. Tubby as I would like to call him rolled himself into the taxi and immediately began his money collecting and screaming out the window duties. The child was a natural! I had absolutely no doubt that he had been doing this ever since he was in his nappies. He also happened to have the sharpest eyesight where he spotted old ladies carrying 100’s of bags from at least 5km away. This boy was an exceptionally talented taxi conductor.
The young man was truly a taxi driver in the making… he even looked like a miniature version of a Noord Taxi driver. I eventually started wondering where his parents were and as I stared at him the possibility that his parents were not around became clear. With his torn and tattered clothing, I came to the conclusion that he wasn’t just helping out the taxi driver, he may be seriously working for his survival.
I was immediately reminded of a time when my sister was working at Baragwanath hospital in Johannesburg Soweto and she used to regularly send me pictures of her baby patients that had been abandoned. These images always broke my heart and as a volunteer for a few orphanages I became attached to some of the kids. So much in that I began to toy with the idea of adoption. Which my parents and rightfully so, suggested was not such a great idea. Given I tend to shy away from responsibility quiet often.
I have a few friends that were ‘adopted’. Their circumstances of adoption were a little different form the traditional ones that we are used to and have seen on TV. Their adoption was more of, their parents worked for a wealthy white family whose kids were all grown up and had left home and they got taken in and had dual ‘parentship’ ( not a word) from their adoptive and biological parents. E.g. during school terms they lived in Sandton and went to the best schools and on school holidays they went back to Soweto.
From what I have seen it seems that the black community has a different take on adoption. If children are stranded or their parents cannot afford them, they usually get taken in by relatives. This of course is pretty normal in the black community. However the conditions of being taken in by relatives are not always the most favourable as this could open the child up to abuse, neglect and all sorts of other things that could scar the child.
Although I would not encourage any child to be raised and groomed to become a taxi driver, I would rather they become that than them hanging around street corners starving and turning to crime and violence, which would be perpetuated by being on the street corners and watching the “Have’s” flaunt their goods and the “Have not’s” beg for a chance at life.
South African statistics on adoption show that only 2000 children are adopted every year and 510 713 are in foster care. Of course foster care is a better solution than having the children on the streets, but I wonder about the foster parents intentions since they get paid to take children in. If any of the other grants in SA are anything to go by then it would only be normal to wonder whether the foster parents are in it to take care of the children or whether they are trying to curb their own poverty by collecting a team of children that they will later neglect. I have seen a few movies on this subject and every time I hope that a lot of creative license was taken in the creating of the story.
Looking at adoption statistics I found that more white kids were adopted in SA than any other race. Also abandoned children were less likely to be adopted, because prospective parents are concerned about health issues and cultural backgrounds. Another defining factor is social worker attitudes because they have been reported to be prejudice when it comes to the adopters based on their age, sexual orientation and marital status.
While I commend what the taxi driver was doing by making a difference in the young boys life. It seems that his help can only go so far at the end of the day that child still needs to find a place to sleep, spend his daily earnings on food and probably pick up drinking as a sport. He literally has no opportunity to be a child. He already has to deal with things that some of us only had to deal with after we turned 25.
I am at the age where everyone is popping out babies and I am left far behind, I can’t even imagine being pregnant and I remember vaguely telling my partner that I want a puppy instead. But, truth is I get broody every now and again and I am convinced I would make an awesome parent. However, I would rather adopt than pop one myself. Besides my vanity and being afraid of turning into a rhino, I truly believe if there are so many children that deserve a home, a better chance at life and have a huge chance of turning out as fabulous as I am; then why am I not helping?
Even if I happen to pop my own, I will still adopt.
A friend of mine Tendai works at Tshwane Home of Hope, an orphanage for girls in Pretoria and visiting him there when I used to work in Pretoria, opened my eyes to what a difference one can make in a child’s life.
For many of these children life has not started well, but that should not mean that their entire lives’ should be riddled with misfortune and lack of opportunity.
To risk going back into history, every time I see a child suffer, I am reminded of a documentary that I watched when I was a child myself. I was titled Any Child is My Child. I hardly remember what it was about, but the title speaks to me and makes me believe, that if you have the means and the love; no matter what race, creed, nationality etc. Any Child can be Your Child.
@Choome_G »» A denium affair wth hint of neon.