Responsibilities are some of the simple duties or chores that a child does while at home. These include washing plates, washing clothes, sweeping, mopping, fetching water and cooking (how much they can help depending on age). These simple responsibilities help a child learn about how to look after a home, and how to be part of a family, which they will need in the future.
However, I had one child who I worked with at S.A.L.V.E. who was on street for four months. When I tried interacting with him to find out why he left home, he said that there was too much domestic work at home. After this, I asked him how many children are at home and tried to dig deeper and find out whether the rest of the children do the work together with him, he said they did. I then asked him what he thinks are some of the responsibilities of a child while at home? Surprisingly he told me the exact duties listed above. I still asked him to tell me some of the reasons why he thinks we do all this kind of work or why our parents task us to do this work at home and how beneficial is it to him and the family.
Why do we need to do chores?
His responses were amazing! He said that parents task children to do this because they want them to be responsible people in the future, and he said it’s done to prevent them from getting diseases that are caused as a result of being dirty, using dirty utensils or being in a dirty a environment. He told me, “I want to live longer and stay healthy so that I can enjoy my future.” This was so nice to hear and it made my day indeed. I therefore asked him what he now thinks about home and the people he left behind. He said he now misses them and would love go back home because he has realised after our discussion that his reasons for leaving home were not good. If his share of the chores were too much he should have talked about it and found ways to share them better.
Even children at the S.A.L.V.E. Drop in Centre join in with our weekly cleaning of the centre. They all wash when they arrive, and also clean their clothes. By living on the street, they are acting very independently and therefore it is good to get them thinking as part of a team or a group again when we all clean the centre together.
Happily, the boy in my story later accepted to go back home. Now, he is contented living at home and doing all of this housework with joy and not looking at it anymore as a punishment. Interestingly, on my latest follow up, he said he wants to cook for me the next time I go back to check on him because he has now learnt how to cook and he said he cooks very nice food which he would like me to taste and get to appreciate his bit of help for the family at home. This really made me feel so happy having helped him with this transformation.