Read All About It: CHILDREN SELLING NEWSPAPERS [Archives:1998/34/Culture]

August 24 1998

During noontime, in the heat of the sun, they sell newspapers at street intersections. They keep on pressing on you to buy from them. They only have the interval until the traffic light goes green to convince you. That is why they act fast and with lots of convincing.
You might pass by an intersection early in the morning and pass by it again in the afternoon, you still see them doing the same thing – young boys selling newspapers. You may have never given it a thought, but is it ordinary for children to be working at that age? Have you ever thought of their problems and circumstances.
To investigate this latter day tragedy, I went to several road junctions to meet with some of these young vendors. Here are samples.
1. Obad Qayed Al-Jaradi, 9:
“One day, one of my ‘workmates’ pocketed the money of a paper I sold. That day, I knew ~I had to make a stand, otherwise, I would be bullied forever.
“I earn about 100 riyals a day and it is not enough even to buy the necessary daily things I need.
“I want to continue my studies until I graduate from university. I think then things will be better.”
2. Mohammed Al-Ameri, 17:
“I earn 300 riyals a day and it is enough for me and my 11 brothers and sisters. It is too exhausting to sell papers all day long, but I know no other way to earn enough to keep my family alive. I hope I could finish my studying to ensure my future. But I don’t expect the coming days to be better.”
3. Radman Al-Shaibani, 29:
“I have been selling papers for one year now. I earn 200 to 300 riyals a day. The money I get is hardly enough for me and my 7 kids. I read some of the papers I sell whenever I can. I have finished high school, but I don’t think I can continue university studies. I’m so depressed about the future. Nothing gives me any glimpse of optimism.”
4. Hameed Al-Harazi, 18, married; has 1 child:
“The papers get pinched from me sometimes and this is one of my biggest problems I have.
“I’m now studying at the first grade of secondary school, and I’m planning to continue my studies. A university degree will change my life for the better. I often suffer from fever because of selling papers the whole day under the sun.”
5. Morshed, 13, and Mosheer, 15, both pupils at Al-Hada’a, primary school:
“Because we stay long hours in the morning, we always suffer from tonsillitis due to the hot weather. People do not treat us well. Our papers are sometimes stolen. Despite of all that, we will try our best to study until we get university degrees.”
6. Abdu Hassan, 14, a primary school student:
“I began selling papers in 1995. I earn nearly 200 riyals a day. I often catch the flu because of constant exposure to weather changes. But, I’m optimistic about my future.”
7. Ali Sa’ad, 15:
“I left school when I was 10 years old. I hope to find a better job to be able to continue my studies. Iwork nearly the whole day until the evening.
Some drivers take papers and flee with it without paying as the traffic light goes green.”
8. Hassan Attafi, 14, Al-Wahda newsstand:
“The owner of this newsstand is good to me. When I was working for other newsstands, I was not treated well. If a newspaper is torn, I have to compensate the newsstand owner, even if it were not my mistake.”
By: Ikram Al-Akoury,