Street & Working Children

  

altFrom a recent assessment, children identified the main causes for leaving home as: the death of one or both parents; having no food at home; and domestic violence between parents and from parent to children through physical beatings, emotional abuse and neglect and even sending children away from home.  Poverty was cited as another key reason for ending up on the street. Poverty is linked with the death of parents and dropping out from school. In additions circumstances such as denial of inheritance rights and breakdown of family ties continue to contribute to the increasing number of children working and living on the streets of Kisumu.

Since 2002 WOI in partnership with Hope for Victoria Children (HOVIC) have been running a programme for street and working children. The overall aim of the project is to ‘improve the physical, psychological, health and economic well-being of street and working children in Kisumu’.

“…On the streets, the police used to beat me. I could go hungry and endure beatings. Now that HOVIC has supported me for close to three months, my life has transformed and I want to be taken home. I am grateful to HOVIC.” (HOVIC under-14 Years old boy)

 During the past 3 years we have helped 661 children access education, facilitated access to justice for 49 children, reunified 146 with their either their families or foster homes and provided different health care services for over 2000 children. We have also provided shelter for 288 children.

One of our targets for the next 3 years is to reach more girls living and working on the street and hidden sector as bar maids, domestic maids and sex workers. Because the girls are hidden and harder to identify, they have missed out on opportunities accessed by street and working boys.

On the streets, sexual and physical abuse is a common occurrence.  New children on the street and girls are most at risk of being abused by older boys particularly as well as the general public. This violence is linked to having no safe place to sleep at night. Boys of all ages also highlighted police violence. The police treat them like thieves, beat them, round them up and sometimes send them to the remand homes or even adult police cells.

The children also spoke of the difficulties they face in finding food, water, and health care. As a result of these hardships, almost all the children on the streets at night are involved in substance abuse: sniffing glue, petrol or smoking ‘kuber’ (raw tobacco) and/or marijuana. New children described how older children force them to sniff glue when they are first on the streets so they become addicted.

Girls living and working on the street face different challenges even worse is that their experiences, like the girls themselves are hidden. They are vulnerable to trafficking and sexual abuse as well as to harsh working conditions and missing out on their education.

“I’m proud that I’ve learned how to protect myself from HIV. I went for a test; and when I found that I was not HIV+, I protect myself.” (HOVIC reunified girl)

 

Read more on what we do



[1]Kenya National AIDS Control Council 2008