Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) congratulates Saturday Star for publishing a story with a positive outlook despite the desperate situation a group of children find themselves in and doing so without downplaying the agency of the children and how critical it is to move towards a long-lasting solution.

The article for which MMA awards a GLAD[1] is titled, “Creche drive helps feed landfill kids” (Saturday Star, 27/08/2020, p.2). It paints a vivid picture of what life is like for children living in an informal settlement next to a landfill. For the most part, the story is about two women who reportedly make big sacrifices to meet the needs of children living in poverty, especially their need for basic education and food. This article shows how compassion is an important ingredient in meeting the rights and needs of children before and during the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

The author, Kevin Ritchie, should be commended for not only providing background information that contextualise the problems but also outlining other connected issues that still need to be addressed. The story highlights important issues such as health, safety of children when playing, education, access to food and the right to be registered. According to the article, the community in this informal settlement not only face xenophobic hostilities from the surrounding communities but they also contend with a government system that is frustrating and cold towards their situation.

The photographs that were taken and published alongside the story are powerful and despite the children living in harsh conditions, the pictures give the children a sense of hope and dignity. One of the pictures shows a group of healthy looking children who live in the area, but their identities are not revealed, as they are facing away from the camera. This is a good journalistic practice that depicts and presents the lived reality of children in poverty without necessarily violating their right to privacy and dignity. This is so commendable in that it moves away from the norm observed where pictures accompanying articles reporting on children and poverty, food insecurity, feeding schemes etc., show children in dire conditions with desperation on their faces without a regard for their privacy and dignity.  

It is important to note that this story is narrated to show, intentionally or unintentionally, solutions or possible solutions to problems faced by children living in poverty. The author highlights the contribution made by a big business and other partners that were roped in to assist. Even though the rights of children are the primary responsibility of parents and government, everyone from business to caring communities and individuals have an important role to play.

This article is a good example of how news reporting can showcase solutions to problems facing marginalised children and communities. It is worth noting that the story was given prominence as it was placed on page 2 of the newspaper. This could be indicative that the newspaper took the rights and welfare of children in this community seriously to afford the story such prominence.

MMA would like to encourage Saturday Star and other media to explore and tell such stories that show examples of how and who should meet the rights and needs of children and, do so in a manner that protects the wellbeing of the children involved.

By George Kalu

[1] A GLAD is awarded when a journalist reports on children in a manner that promotes and protects the children’s wellbeing

Below is the response by Saturday Star to the commentary;

“The Saturday Star prides itself on telling the stories of our community as authentically as possible to inform and spark change where change is needed but in the process do as little harm as possible to the subjects of those stories. It is wonderful that this has been recognised yet again.” – Kashiefa Ajam, Editor.