The beggar’s child – an African poem

robbiephotos-21Everyday when I drive to work and everyday when I drive home I see a woman at the traffic lights with her child. Her little boy is about 18 months old now. I have seen her there nearly every day for the past four years. I saw her during her pregnancy, during her son’s infancy and now, I am watching him grow. I often wonder, when I see these children born to poverty, what they think as they watch the world go by, frequently from a position on their mother’s back. I find it a very sad and wretched sight, so much so, that I was inspired to write this poem.

The beggar’s child


 At the traffic light she stands;

On her back, a small boy;

His eyes round; deep black;

In a wizen face, bereft of joy.


What thoughts cross his mind?

As he observes in his childish way;

The endless traffic that passes by;

Throughout each and every long day.


Their well-fed occupants flash by;

Their faces just at his line of sight;

What feelings in him are aroused?

As they ignore his desperate plight.


Does it make him feel invisible?

Unwelcome in this troublesome life;

Does it develop into feelings of despair?

As their complacency cuts like a knife.


The cards he has been dealt, provide;

few opportunities to improve and learn;

How frustrating to watch the world pass by;

Knowing it will never be your turn.


If we want to see real change and difference;

We must start to recognise and right;

The casualties of poverty and indifference;

Even if our individual contribution is slight.


by Robbie Cheadle


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