The Pure-Water Girl and The Promise of A Better Ghana
By: Dominic Mensah, Berlin, Germany
Monday morning has broken; another day to rush to the office. An hour in traffic coupled with the hot sun coming out at 8 am, In his air-conditioned car, sweat begins to form on his face In vain, he looks aloud for a bottle of “Voltic”; he curses within.
Must he really call the pure-water girl? He’s thirsty but concerned. Was the water prepared under rigidly controlled hygienic conditions? Reluctantly, he rolls down his window and shouts for the pure-water seller. She appeared suddenly, offers him the drink and rushes to the next client.
An hour earlier, he had dropped his two children off at primary school. On their way to school, they shared their dreams with their caring father. The boy dreams of following his father’s steps- a lawyer; the girl smiled. With their father’s political connection, their future could only be bright.
The pure-water seller could not have been older than his beloved children. He questioned the condition of the water but not why she wasn’t in school. What was it to him? Was he not playing his role as a responsible father? They were world apart and would with certainty, never meet again, never!
Why should he be outraged knowing some children do not school? After all, hadn’t he given the little girl ten pesewas for her service? Hadn’t he learned the game of standing up for himself and his family? Slowly, the traffic lessens considerably; time to make more money.
From a distance, I was compelled to reflect on this sad happening. How much longer must the young girl work the streets selling water? Lacking the material means to change her situation and give her focus in life, I show my concern by bringing to life the misery of her tragic story.
Like the lawyer’s children, she also had the goal of pursuing her dreams. Born into the wrong home, she was forced to wake up from her fantasies. Carried to the busy streets of Ghana, she must help quench people’s thirst. At a time when she should be living her childhood learning to read and write.
To thousands of young children in Ghana, this is all there is to their existence! Can we fault these children if they grow up to become “undesirable” citizens? How long would we continue to separate our happiness from those unfortunate? How long can we go on privileging our interests and opportunities over theirs?
On the future of Ghana, I ask if there is a human right to education. Who has the obligation to make sure that these street children get one- their parents, the government or themselves? What kind of society do we collectively have in mind? why should we even care about their plight?
I believe in the dream of committing to equality of opportunity particularly in education; it cannot be considered Utopian or illusionary. Assure me Ghana doesn’t lack the means to realize this dream; tell me this calamity is due to absence of a collective social consciousness! Please, don’t tell me to wake up!
I’m just an ordinary person with an ordinary mind willing to do an extra-ordinary act to expand my consciousness to embrace humanity in making Ghana better. As a group, we can help one another and live by each other’s happiness Let’s change perspective with these children to feel and see their helplessness.
Greed might have poisoned our national identity but indifference is worse. We claim patriotism when it comes to trivial matters and yet feel too little kindness for our fellow Ghanaians. It’s time we warn ourselves against the spirit of indifference toward this evil— evil that takes place right before our sight on a daily basis.
Their world may appear to be far different from our own; but it is not that far. Their plights are closer to us than we feel and think. We are social organism; we are moral “animals” and must humanely commit ourselves to their well-being. Let’s join hands in feeling the depths of their pain if we are to give them hope.
Digging into the intimacy of our hearts in this tragic situation, we can raise public awareness that these young children deserve a chance in life; a chance to be in school. We must all see it as our human- not political- responsibilities to help make life better for these children. As part of our national, agenda this shame must be reversed.
Let’s come together and create a Ghana whose national soul would be manifested in social justice and of real compassion: a Ghana baptized in spiritual patriotism. The system may work for the few lucky ones with political connections but the fair and noble minded citizen knows the only thing that will redeem Ghana is cooperation.
Can we sincerely look into the eyes of the pure-water girl and tell her “you don’t deserve to be in school; you don’t deserve a chance in life; you deserve to break your neck carrying loads. We, on the other hand, had responsible parents who made sure we were educated. It is your bad. We are sorry! May God help and have mercy on you?”
Together “Let’s learn to allow the god in us show compassion towards the plight of the god in others. If we would learn not to look away, we would be confronted with what it means to be human and thereby come face to face with the spirit of the one who said, “Inasmuch as you did it to the least of my sisters and brothers…,”
If we learn not to look away, our spirits can jointly be comforted by “El Mole Rachamim, our God who is full of compassion and who suffers with us.” Out of love for humanity, let’s endeavor together to create a better Ghana cemented on fairness, equality of opportunity and security for all Ghanaian children regardless of their family and financial background.
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