I’m sorry to bring this situation to your attention. I’ve been around a bit and seen a fair amount in my life, but I was shocked and horrified into sharing this story which was told to me first hand by a teacher.
A young boy of 6 years old went to primary school. It was a Monday morning – he should have been bright eyed and fresh, but all day his teacher noticed him “flagging and dozing”, unable to concentrate. He obviously needing to sleep.
Being a competent teacher, professional and concerned, she sat with the boy and chatted.
“You’re very tired today, didn’t you get any sleep last night?” The boy says “no, no sleep”. The baby, 3 month old Mabel, kept him awake, he explained. The teacher thought that was a reasonable explanation, but the boy added with a shrug “it always happens on Sunday and Monday”. The teacher enquires further. The naive six year old explains “my mum runs out of money, Mabel wants milk in her bottle, but we have to give her water.”
Caring at 6 years old
It turns out, this boy, a baby himself is the carer for his tiny sister and his mum. He changes Mabel’s nappies, comforts Mabel, washes Mabel. He looks after his mum, waking her in the morning, reminding her to take him to school.
The teacher follows the school protocol, reports her concerns. Because of confidentiality, she will not to get to know the outcome. She will never know what happens, but I know this teacher will be haunted by this and will also wonder what happened to these two babes who have evidently slipped through the safety net.
I wonder how many more children there are living this life?
A fairer society
This injustice is shaming. That’s why I will always campaign and work for a fairer country. A society which seeks to care for all and treats everyone with dignity and respect. It is also why I will work tirelessly to combat poverty. There is simply no need for children to experience this poverty of existence.