Last week, my joy was rather short lived when I read somewhere in the newspapers that an 11-year-old child had drowned in River Nyabarongo in Muhanga district. The river has actually claimed two lives in a space of just two weeks. I also heard some reports of a child who was swept away by flood waters in Nyacyonga just the other day.
A week ago while in Kampala, a school child was also swept to her death by flood waters after a heavy downpour in the city. And we should not forget that last month four children drowned in River Nyabarongo. Even the recent fire disaster in Nairobi claimed so many young children.
All these worrying reports make my heart bleed. We always praise children as the future leaders but how can they get to this future if their present is so life threatening. How are they supposed to achieve their dreams if their present survival is not secured?
Each time such cases are reported, the blame fingers come out pointing at parents, teachers, local authorities or anyone close by. What we need to do is not cast blame on each other but each to contribute toward making our children safe.
Many times I see school children walking by the roadsides alone and I wonder whether they even know whether they are walking on the safer side. At the advent of my primary education I was taught that it is always safer to walk on the side with oncoming traffic because then one can see an approaching vehicle.
Parents and teachers also need to warn children against playing in the rain as the force of flowing water can easily carry a small child away. They should be urged to wait out the rain instead of walking in it. I know many naughty children will prefer to walk in the rain and even take off their shoes to walk in the trenches where the water is flowing.
The oil spillage and fire in Nairobi should also remind us to strongly remind the little ones NEVER to indulge in fetching fuel from an oil tanker or leaking pipeline. It is always just a matter of time before the leakage catches fire and devours all those in its presence. Parents should also never be so irresponsible as to send their children to collect spilling fuel.
Thankfully, the Rwanda National Police occasionally visit schools to conduct seminars on topics like drug abuse. However, they need to also talk to school children about road safety on a more regular basis.
The fire department ought to find time to visit schools and educate children on what to do when faced with a fire outbreak situation. As we equip our children with the right attitudes, skills and knowledge we should not ignore those aimed at keeping them safe and alive.
First aid and how to act in cases of emergency should be taken seriously and taught to all students in all schools.