, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – A child welfare organization says that there is need to look at long term solutions in the quest to remove young children from the streets and providing them with a place they can call home.
This follows revelations by SoulKids Charity Group that there are over 30,000 children in the country who live on the streets.
Chairperson Sandra Kanstad says that provisions should be made available to give them food and education in a bid to secure their future.
“Think about the way you help them. You can always meet the kid on the streets and you think you are helping them by buying them food,” she said. “What you really are doing is making it easier for them to be on the streets than actually going home,” she added. I am not saying don’t give them food…give them but also think of their future…how can you help them to have a better future which is off the street?
“School is also important and you can give them proper clothes and get to know the children on the streets.”
The group’s Public Relations Officer David Slaid says that giving the plight of street children the attention it deserves will ensure that their talent is tapped thus improving the country’s economy.
“Most of them have a talent and they can easily be engaged in some income generating activity which can turn their lives around,” Mr Slaid said.
“So our intention is also to look on how we can get them in some vocational training,” he stated.
The two officials spoke ahead of Saturday’s Christmas pool party at Impala Sports Club which is aimed at raising funds to assist the street kids.
Street children face endless cruelties. Their rights have been violated many times by the adults who were supposed to protect them.
In many cases these children are subject to sexual exploitation in return for food or clothes. Often, police detain and beat them without reason.
The United Nations has defined the term ‘street children’ to include any boy or girl for whom the street in the widest sense of the word has become his or her habitual abode and/or source of livelihood, and who is inadequately protected, supervised, or directed by responsible adults.
Street children are also divided into two groups: those who live in the street (spend all their time in the street), and those who live on the street (i.e. those who return home at night).
The first is children who work and live on the street full-time, living in groups in temporary shelters or dark alleys.
The second category is children who work on the streets by day but go home to their families in the evenings. This category constitutes the majority of street children in the country.
The third category is children who are on the streets occasionally, such as in the evenings, weekends, and during school holidays.
The fourth category is known as “street families”, children whose parents are also on the streets.
Nairobi’s street children are easily recognised with their trademark sacks slung over their backs, searching through dustbins. They are branded “chokora” or scavengers.
In order to survive on the streets, young people often beg, carry luggage, or clean business premises and vehicles. Others earn some money by collecting waste paper, bottles, and metals for recycling.
The children sometimes assist the city council cleaners in sweeping and collecting garbage.