The Lost Youth of Freetown: Addressing and Breaking the Cycle of Street Life.

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By Abdulai Kamara

At the bustling street junctions of Freetown, particularly in areas like Lumley Beach Road, Crab Town, Jui, and eastern Police, a growing population of idle boys, as many call them, has become a common sight. These lost youth, as I call them because they haven’t discovered their purpose, also refer to themselves as “Battle Man.” These young boys, caught in a desperate struggle for survival, roam these junctions, their lives a stark contrast to a decent youth life.

Their days are marked by a constant hustle, lack of hygiene, sweating, and an unkempt appearance that, along with their pungent odor, can be off-putting. They can be seen around public transportation, chasing after poda poda, keke, taxis, and minibuses, shouting the destinations of these vehicles and hoping for a small tip. Their persistence often borders on harassment, as they aggressively approach these vehicles, their untidiness a constant reminder of their difficult circumstances.

Their methods extend beyond simply chasing public transportation. They often harass private cars, assuming they belong to people of status, hailing and escorting the car while blasting the name of the person and sometimes doing a quick wash on the windscreen, chanting in Krio “bra u borbor den dae” (meaning “Boss, your boys are here”) in hopes of receiving a tip. This behavior, while seemingly harmless, highlights the desperation that drives them, a desperation fueled by poverty and lack of opportunity.

Sadly, many of these boys are entangled in the cycle of drug addiction, particularly with the use of Kush. Their drug use not only exacerbates their already precarious situation but also contributes to their increasingly erratic behavior, further pushing them to the fringes of society.

The presence of these boys at these busy intersections fosters a perception of lawlessness and insecurity, posing a direct threat to the safety and belongings of commuters. Their lifestyle sets a negative example for other children, potentially perpetuating a cycle of street life and criminal behavior.

It’s important to remember that these are not totally lost youth incapable of learning a trade or improving their lives. Some of them can do so, and some come from decent families but have been driven to the streets by circumstance, leading lives they never envisioned for themselves.

Urgent action is needed to address this issue, not only to help these boys but also to prevent future generations from falling into the same trap. Rehabilitation programs are crucial, offering these young men a path out of their current situation. Only through a concerted effort can we break the cycle of street life, poverty and addiction.

The future of these lost youth lies in our hands. By acknowledging their plights, understanding their struggles, and providing them with a necessary support, we can help them reclaim their lost youth and build a brighter future for themselves and their community.

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