A street-working child in Yemen
© Ahlam al-Watary
A street-working child in Yemen
Last updated: April 29, 2013

Q&A with a street-working child in Yemen

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Q. What is your name and where do you work?
A. My name is Ali and I work on the street. I sell things to pedestrians and everyone on the street, including car drivers.

Q. What kind of things do you sell to people?
A. Well, sometimes I sell tissues, sometimes chewing gum and sometimes I sell mineral water especially during the rush hour when it’s crowded and hot.

Q. Do you study?
A. Yes, I do. But sometimes I have to skip school because we need money.

Q. Who do you mean by "we"?
A. I mean my family. My dad.

Q. Why does your dad need the money?
A. Because he is the boss. It’s him who sends me out to work and collect money for the whole family.

Q. Does your father work?
A. No.

Q. Why? Can’t he work?
A. He just doesn’t work. He can work but he always says that he brought sons to life for his own good and they should bring him the money he needs.

Q. How many members are there in your family?
A. We are three sons and mother and father.

Q. Do your brothers work too?
A. Yes, they do.

Q. Where?
A. One of them sells things on the streets, like me. And the other works in my dad's shop.

Q. Why don't you and your other brother who works on the street work in the shop too?
A. My father says that we have to collect money from different sources and we are too young to be working in a shop.

Q. Then why did your father send you to the street to work?
A. He wanted us to be real men by facing different people and different situations.

Q. How old are you?
A. I am 10 years old.

This 10-year-old boy is one of hundreds of children working on the streets of the capital Sana'a, Yemen. Nevertheless, Ali's father's opinion of raising real men is not only his opinion but many fathers believe in the same approach.

Much has been said and discussed regarding this phenomenon but unfortunately nothing serious enough has been dug into the ground of reality.

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Ahlam Hamid Al-Watary
Ahlam is a freelance journalist, writer and English teacher from Sana'a, Yemen.
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