New Internationalist

Jack:’The Kind of life I want’

Issue 377

Jack is 12 but looks 9 - he is tiny and lean. He had to leave his mother (whom he loves dearly) and six siblings to try and earn his keep. He was drowsy from lack of sleep due to round-up operations in his area the previous night. Suffering from a toothache, he still wanted to talk about his life. And when the memories were too painful and the words refused to come, he drew pictures instead.

I sleep in a park. Sometimes I wake up during the night. As soon as I wake up I start doing something – I beg, I ask for money and food, even from strangers. Then I sleep again. Sometimes I wake up in the afternoon.

I don’t like it but I also wipe shoes. I can earn 200 pesos [$3.65] in one day from wiping shoes inside the [very crowded] jeepneys. I don’t know how many shoes I have to wipe to earn it. I get kicked on my back by some of the passengers.

I use a cloth to wipe shoes. I don’t have any polish or anything. I just ask the drivers for a piece of cloth. I pick up rags in the jeepney even when the driver is not there. Sometimes the driver gets down from the jeep and goes inside to where the passengers are. And he has a pipe which he uses to beat me. When people hit me I always tell my friends.

We are also beaten by the police. And even by those who conduct the ‘rescue operations’ [local government sponsored round-ups of street children, usually at night, who are then held in detention centres – Reception and Action Centres (RAC)]. Once I was caught but not at first because I ran and ran and ran. The woman who caught us, cornered us and punched me in the nose. There was blood and I had a swelling in my eye. I did nothing. My brother also went to the RAC and they beat him. A chair was thrown at him. When I saw that, I escaped. They followed after me. I was wounded – here is my wound [points to wounds on his stomach and thigh].

I also had an accident here on UN Avenue. Two jeepneys got out of control and I found myself in the middle. The jeep moved, then another jeep also came in – the jeepneys got fed up with me. My back got squashed so much I really had difficulty in walking. But mainly the jeepney drivers are not angry with me because I cross the street properly.

[Jack asks to make a drawing and starts talking about it as he sketches.]

Photo: Fran Harvey
Jack with his Childhope street educator, who also keeps an eye on him. Photo: Fran Harvey

This is the ghost. I don’t know whose ghost it is. He has a hat. He’s a hunchback.

The hands of the ghost are like this because he always frightens people during the night and we become afraid. They can kill. Ghosts are worse than the bad people. They eat people. I’ve seen a ghost in the forest [the park in his area]. There are also women ghosts. The women ghosts are good and the men are bad. The women ghosts feel mercy towards us.

[Starts second sketch; see above.]

All of this is the light. This is the sun and a house for the people. The house is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. This house is for me and my brothers and sisters. Here’s a dimple on the sun. Some of my siblings would study and some would guard the house. That’s the kind of life I want to have for me and my brothers.

I pick up pieces of cardboard to sleep on at night. The bits that are thrown out by people. It’s very uncomfortable. I don’t feel protected on the streets. A proper place to sleep would be a house.

Jack, Lean-Joy and Jessa spoke to Dinyar Godrej and Fran Harvey of the New Internationalist co-operative.

This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7

Comments on Jack:'The Kind of life I want'

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

  1. #1 Hui-Ung 18 Jul 12

    before i read this article, i was few ideas of what homeless people's lives would be like. but while i was reading this i was in a shock, especially about the part when Jack was beaten by the police.the protection for homeless people, mostly for homeless children, has to be alrerted. and also other people should see the homeless people in euqal rights.

  2. #2 Mahdi 18 Jul 12

    This is such a heart breaking story that happened and still happens to many people especially to teenagers in the world who mostly come from poor families. It is crucial that the UN and other countries in the world to look at this situation more closely because all humans are created equally and they need to have equals rights and opportunities!!!!.

  3. #3 Nero Lin 18 Jul 12

    Please don't tell me this happened in China! I feel so sorry for this kid. Things that happened in this story were weird. These children like Jack should be the one who need help. I didn't understand why the escape from RAC, isn't that a place where those children can get help, have food, place to sleep?

  4. #4 Jack 19 Jul 12

    There are a lot of children just like him in the world right now. As more and more stories like this one is brought to light, people start to take into awareness. I think that as more people who feel sympathy for these kids, the more aid they will receive, and the police/rescue operator beatings will certainly not be allowed to happen. I think this is a issue that have always existed and will take great efforts and time to solve.

  5. #5 Duncan Chung 19 Jul 12

    After I have read this article, I think it is a sad case of jack and his brothers. It expresses there is a lot of unfairness in third country, especially people who live in property. I believe they have been through many difficult situation, like sleep on the street with no protection, also jack wants to be educated and have a better life but in reality I think he wont get it. I believe the story is just one of the many example of homeless people.

  6. #6 Duncan Chung 19 Jul 12

    After I have read this article, I think it is a sad case of jack and his brothers. It expresses there is a lot of unfairness in third country, especially people who live in property. I believe they have been through many difficult situation, like sleep on the street with no protection, also jack wants to be educated and have a better life but in reality I think he wont get it. I believe the story is just one of the many example of homeless people.

  7. #7 Dean Liu 22 Jul 12

    It was very uncomfortable when I read this article, the experience of Jack had is that the kind of life I had never imaged before. It is a horrible life for Jack which is only 12 years old boy. I just can't understand why people are often beat him, I mean what's wrong with him, he was just doing his job and the drivers was beating him.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv's globalviews channel.

Recently in Features

All Features

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 377

New Internationalist Magazine issue 377
Issue 377

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe