‘Solo quise ser un niño . . . y no me dejaron’
“Solo quise ser un niño . . . y no me dejaron,” “I just wanted to be a child, and they wouldn’t let me.” These heart wrenchingly sad words are carved into a plaque on the streets in zone 1, Guatemala City. Placed there to commemorate the life and death of Nahaman, a boy only 13 years old when he was killed. He was a child living on the streets and one day the police came and beat him. The plaque sits on the ground from where his broken body was picked up and taken to hospital, where he later died from his injuries. 13 years old and murdered for no other reason than that he was living on the streets, alone and without rights.
Nahaman was just one of many street children murdered by the police in Guatemala during the 90’s.
On the 12th April it will be ‘The International Day of the Street Child,’ yesterday we marched to remember those lives lost and to build awareness of the situation of children at risk of living on the streets and those people who are living on the streets right now. We marched for children’s rights. We marched to let people know that we haven’t forgotten Nahaman.
It was such a special occasion, we at Street Kids Direct joined with other organisations and people who work with and serve people living on the streets and ‘at risk’ children here in Guatemala. A group of us along with around 20 children walked from our centre in zone 9/4 to meet the others in zone 1, staff and volunteers from ‘Sigo Vivo,’ ‘Mojoca,’ ‘Go Guatemala’ and ‘café refrescante,’ along with some of the young people who currently live on the streets. Together we marched down Sexta Avenida, the main street in zone 1 to the centre.
We had banners and signs and the children blew whistles and shouted, as we raised awareness and stood up for the rights of those most vulnerable and shunned. It was on the way to the city centre where we paused at Nahaman’s plaque and heard his story told by Dunc Dyason, director of Street Kids Direct UK. A few solemn moments set aside where everyone, including the children, listened intently showing respect and understanding the importance of this occasion. As we gathered around Nahaman’s plaque silence ensued and I am sure I was not alone in feeling moved at such a poignant moment in time.
It is unimaginable that a group of fully-grown men, police officers, could beat a defenceless child to the brink of death. Yet here we were stood hearing his story and remembering such an event.
The march continued; our energies renewed as we celebrated the ‘International day of the Street Child.’ When we reached central park, we gathered and sent out a live video on social media, to further build awareness.
The children played in the fountain and we sat to enjoy a snack together. There in the centre of the park is a memorial for the girls who died in the government children’s home fire in March 2017. A tragic event where yet again systems failed to protect and care for the most vulnerable.
I watched our precious children playing, running around, spraying water over each other and my heart was both heavy and elated. There have been too many children like Nahaman, who lost their lives in such horrific circumstances. There is still so much suffering, too many children living in extreme need and in such ‘high risk’ situations. Yet there I was among a group of amazing people, people who care and sacrifice daily for the rights and needs of the most vulnerable people in Guatemala City. I felt honoured to be surrounded by such people, such brave and servant hearted people. I looked at the beautiful children we work with and felt a sense of hope, knowing that their lives will be different.
What a privilege it is to be allowed to be part of such a special and hope filled event and time.