Streetism: The Lived Experiences of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and their Rights.
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This study attempts to explore both the pre-street and the current lived experiences ofunaccompanied migrant children on the streets of Accra and the motivations, contributions,perceptions and the challenges these children face at the point of destination. The study furtherexplores street children‟s views on their rights in terms of their schooling, health care andeconomic participation. The overarching perspective of the study is based on the philosophy and tenets of the socialstudies of childhood. A number of concepts and theories which are very prominent in the studyof children and childhood were used as the underpinning framework of the study. These conceptsare; concepts of agency, participation, social structure, street children, working children, andmigration theory. Unaccompanied migrate children become street children as a result ofmigration. The various social structures that confront these children inflame the agency andcompetent spirit which pushes children to engage in economic participation for their existenceand survival in an unknown destination. These concepts and theories will help in making cogentanalysis and also help put my discussions in focus. One major aim of my study was to give children the voice and the platform to air their views inissues that concerns their own lives. In this child focus research, qualitative research approachand specifically the ethnographic method were adopted in the data collection process becausethese approaches give in-depth analysis on social issues. Data collection tools used includesinterviews, participant observation and focus group discussion. My field work was in Accra(Ghana). In all 15 informants made up of both genders were sampled from two research sites, amarket and a lorry station. The analysis of the study revealed that, there exists manifold variety of childhoods. Children‟slived experiences involve work no matter where they are, either with their families or on thestreet as indicated by the study. The results also indicated that, children‟s motives for migratingcan be linked to personal, family and structural conditions which serve as both push and pullfactors, from and to their destination point. Additionally, the results indicated that children‟swork in their destination point is one of the major activities in their daily lives. Again peerrelations on the street are used as a means to support one another in times of need, and play wasidentified to be a part of children‟s street life. Also evidences from the study indicated thatchildren make contributes towards the well being and the development of themselves, theirfamilies and the society as well. Majority of the children living on the street have no classroomeducation, neither do they have access to “proper” medical care. Finally the study revealed that,children face a number of challenges as a part of their lived experiences on the street. Furthermore the following lessons and conclusions from the study are drawn. It was clear thatstreet children need their work in order to survive because children in the Global Southexperience particular structural conditions which necessitate them to work. The universal modelof childhood cannot be applicable to some categories of children, like the informants in mystudy. Aside the adults‟ defined spaces for children, there exist different spaces in the GlobalSouth were children can occupy, such as the street.