Retrak America

Retrak works to transform highly vulnerable children's lives; preserve families; empower communities and give each of them a voice. We put children at the very heart of everything we do and will be fearless and tenacious in defending and promoting their rights.
Apr 3, 2015

"Night is the most dangerous for us"

A child at Birunda
A child at Birunda

Those are the words of a six-year-old street child as told to a social worker from Retrak’s partner organization Child Rescue Kenya (CRK).  CRK operates the Birunda Rescue Center in the town of Kitale in western Kenya. Birunda offers children a safe place to sleep at night, as well as food, medical care, learning and counseling. Birunda is the first step in a street child’s journey towards a stable and loving family home.

Brian, age 4, was another one of the hundreds of children on the streets of Kitale, but fortunately for him, CRK was able to intervene on his behalf. He tells us his story in his own words:

"On our way to visit my auntie I stopped to look at some toys in a stall. I had never seen so many. After, all I could see was people everywhere but not Mama Brian. I was lost, I know my village but not it's name. I was taken to an office who brought me here [to Child Rescue Kenya]. Now Mama is here and taking me home today".

Thanks to the work of Child Rescue Kenya, children like Brian are getting off the streets and being reunited with their families. Thank you for supporting the work of CRK and Retrak. Please help us continue this vital work by making another donation today.

Kitale, Kenya
Kitale, Kenya
All children deserve to grow up in a loving family
All children deserve to grow up in a loving family

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Apr 3, 2015

A Grandmother's Tears of Joy

The photo that helped Cyrus find his grandparents
The photo that helped Cyrus find his grandparents

The latest Retrak success story of a street child reunited with his family comes from Cyrus*, a 7-year-old boy from Nanyale village in Eastern Uganda.

Cyrus grew up living with his grandparents, as his mother left when he was young and his father had to work. One summer, Cyrus went to spend his school holiday with his father in Kampala, who would leave him in his neighbor’s care while he worked. Cyrus soon ran away, frightened by a local circumcision preparation dance, known as an ‘Embalu’. Unable to find his way home to his grandparents, Cyrus slept on the streets. He survived by begging for money for food, and when unsuccessful, was forced to scavenge for leftovers from restaurant bins.

But one night, Cyrus and a few of his friends were rounded up by the police, who then referred him to Retrak’s Bulamu drop-in center. Here, Cyrus received care and protection, getting along well with the other children despite not speaking the same language as them. Cyrus was then moved to the Retrak Tuddabujja halfway home, where he told his social workers details about his previous primary school and his grandparents. This crucial turning point gave Cyrus’ social workers hope that he could be returned home.

Anthony, a security guard at Retrak’s clubhouse, went on to visit Cyrus’ village, showing locals a photograph of him in the hope that someone would know where his family could be found. Thankfully, Anthony was in luck. Teachers from his school recognized Cyrus from the photo, and were able to escort Anthony to the house of his grandparents.

On arrival, Anthony presented the photograph of Cyrus to his grandmother, who broke down in tears. “We give thanks to the Lord”, she cried, upon learning that after 6 months of no word, her grandson was safe. She explained how Cyrus’ father had contacted them, petrified he had been kidnapped for sacrifice. After trying all possible ways they could to find him, they were left to fear the worst.

Many children like Cyrus find themselves with no option but to live on the streets, simply because they cannot find or make their way home. Thanks to the support of our donors, Retrak continues to work with young people to retrace their families and return them home.

*Name changed to protect the child’s identity

Retrak
Retrak's Bulamu Drop-In Center in Kampala
Tudabujja - Cyrus
Tudabujja - Cyrus' last stop before returning home

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Apr 3, 2015

Making the Invisible Visible in Malawi

Every child counts in Malawi
Every child counts in Malawi

Late last year, Retrak, with its partner Chisomo Children’s Club, performed a survey of children on the streets of Blantyre and Lilongwe, Malawi. Counting street children is a huge challenge, not least because of their mobility and distrust of adults. Yet reliable and accurate measures of street child populations can help ensure that we meet children’s needs in the right way. The communities warmly welcomed the enumerators, commenting that they were pleased that someone was trying to help these children.

During the headcount, the participants mapped out the city and highlighted the areas where they knew street children were hanging around. We then sent teams into all these areas for the count. In both Lilongwe and Blantyre we found many children in some unexpected places.  The enumerators came back full of stories from the children they interviewed. One boy had come to the streets to beg and try to earn school fees, but got lost and was desperate to get home again. A girl was brought by her auntie into town to find work, but the work was in a bar, and she ended up being abused by the patrons. Another small boy was wandering the streets alone and did not even know his village name. A group of lads survived by collecting bottles and scrap metal and sleeping under the railway bridge. One child in our survey of Lilongwe told us "There's completely no one to stay with me; my parents passed away and my other relatives refused to look after me." These are all heart-breaking stories of young lives torn apart by forces they have no control over.

Thankfully, Chisomo Children's Club is on the ground in Malawi to help children get off the streets and back with a loving family. But there are far more children on the streets than CCC has the capacity to help. That's why we urgently need help from our supporters and regular givers to reach street children with services.

Our next progress report from Malawi will discuss the final results of the enumeration study. Special thanks go to David Whitford and Joanna Wakia for their leadership with the headcount.

 

Social workers gather prior to beginning the count
Social workers gather prior to beginning the count
Highlighted areas where street children gather
Highlighted areas where street children gather

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