There are some things that we all encounter on our daily meanderings in and around Grahamstown. Old cars reversing up High Street. Donkeys. Car guards with weird hand-held devices and, inevitably, fellow students.
Now, I’m about to use a word that begins with ‘s’ and ends with ‘kids’. The reason I’m pre-empting it is because I know that as soon as you reach that particular word you’re going to turn the page and look for something else to read. But I urge you not to, because somewhere further down I’m going to be talking about beer.
Right, here we go. One thing we’re guaranteed to encounter in G-town are streetkids.
Us middle-class folk have a tenuous relationship with streetkids. They’re annoying. They’re pushy. They’re relentless. I’m sure there are many other adjectives that would work here but are somewhat less polite.
A couple of weeks back I had a monster assignment to complete – for the next morning obviously. So, feeling a bit low at 1am, I switched off my heater, donned my jacket and slippers, wedged myself into my car and trundled along to BP for some much-needed sugar and caffeine. It was bitterly cold that night.
As I parked, the mandatory streetkid arrived and produced a browned piece of paper with some scribblings on it. My first reaction was “Sorry, I’ve got nothing,” but then I realised something. All that the kid was wearing was an old pair of leather shoes, track-pants and a T-shirt.
I asked him where he was sleeping that night and he pointed to the benches where the petrol attendants sit. Crikey. How ridiculous is that. Here I am, all wrapped up and warm, about to spend R30 on rubbish and then return to my heater. This child, as that is what he was, was very cold. And very hungry. I bought him a hot sausage roll, mumbled something about “being sorry” and made my way home.
It’s just not right is it. How in any rational mind is that situation excusable or justifiable? Street kids are the barometer of society. The very fact that they are there means that things are simply wrong and that we’re just not doing enough.
And now part 2: beer. I told you I’d come back to beer. I’m not trying to get you all to embrace every kid you meet and take him home. I’m not trying to get you all to give up your life savings, grow beards and wear tie-dye items. No, I think the solution is much simpler than that.
The fact is that we spend a ludicrous amount of money on alcohol. So here’s a proposition for us. I’m calling it “Buy a Streetkid a Beer”. And no, not an actual beer. I mean take that R10 which you would have spent on your 11th beer and buy a kid a boerie roll, or donate it in the right direction.
Perhaps if we measure charity in pints, we might get somewhere positive. Think about it.