He took his time climbing the steps of the platform. The reporters continued their usual banter. His head remained low as if the weight of his thoughts affected his neck muscles. He tapped the microphone and a screech pierced through the room. Reporters fell silent in mid sentence and took their seats.
ďHi. I mean, hello, everyone. I was picked to come and tell you about your kids and kids everywhere. The world doesnít seem to be made for children. You all should know a lot about that. When I watch the news with my mom I hear about kids that have been killed by grownups they knew. Itís scary.
We are all alone. We have parents, but they have their own problems. I try not to cause trouble because I know that my parents have enough of it already. Before you ask, my father is not a lazy, good-for-nothing man without a job. And, my mom does not have six kids. My dad works and so does my mom. I have a little sister who I look after until my mom gets home from work.
In the night, I hear them argue about stuff, probably money. You see, after they pay for our apartment and the other bills, thereís not much left over for food. Mom doesnít want dad to get a night job because she is afraid to be home by herself in our neighborhood.
Iím glad my sister and I are both in school. Sheís only in kindergarten but she gets to eat there. I have a meal ticket for lunch so I get everything I can with it. The cold stuff I bring home and put in the refrigerator for my family. We eat breakfast or dinner but not both so the food from school helps. If my stomach starts to growl, I drink a big glass of water to make it stop.
At least once a week someone will ask me to sell drugs for them. My dad would kill me. I do think about it sometimes, though. Iím not growing fast but my sister is and she needs new clothes. Itís good that my mom knows how to sew. Kids make fun of my short pants. It hurts but I can take it. Iíve learned to be tough.
On top of all of this, kids have to worry about being murdered or abused by people bigger than them. Kids my age are selling their bodies for money or selling drugs. Once in a while, one of them gets killed in a deal gone bad. Thatís the real reason I donít sell drugs. I donít want to die.
Now, itís your turn to do something. Donít send charity. We wonít take it. My dad taught me that. We have our dignity. Besides, charity makes you feel good and us easier to ignore. Kids only have rights if the grownups say we do. Thatís wrong.
Pay attention to your kids and listen to them. If not, that ďboogeymanĒ you are afraid of could be sleeping in your own house. Grownups donít have to be poor for their kids to have problems. Rich peopleís kids have drama, too. Money can keep you from starving, but it wonít stop the pain inside.
For the record, my name is Malik and I am ten years old. I canít vote or drive a car, but I could buy drugs or a gun. I can be hurt or watch a friend get shot and killed in the street when no one else admits to seeing a thing. My mom says my name means ďGodís messengerĒ and that makes me special. I think all kids are special. But, only you can make that true by protecting us. Thank you.Ē
An accurate representation of our kids the world over. And it is SOOOO sad. So often it seems that the little I do doesn't make a big enough difference.
I have only two suggestions - the first is that every paragraph should open with speech marks to denote continued speech; the second is that I'd love a little more background at the beginning of the story so that I can envisage WHY this kid has actually been given a chance to speak for the children.
Lovely to see you back on the boards again, however briefly! Write well, for Him.