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.
Twenty years ago, two expats living in Kampala, Uganda, started playing pick-up soccer after work with a group of street boys. Little did they know in 1994 that over the course of the next two decades, this soccer club would evolve into a highly effective and respected organization that would change the lives of thousands of vulnerable boys and girls and their families in five African countries.
Oscar was one of the hundreds of children who walked through the gates of Retrak’s Clubhouses last year, taking that first step off of the streets and into a new life. After enduring many months of hardship alone on the streets of Kampala, Oscar found love and support at the Clubhouse. Oscar was a bit older than most of the children in Retrak's program, and with the guidance of a Retrak social worker, decided to pursue vocational training in metal welding with the hope of someday living independently. Retrak supported Oscar through his training and apprenticeship and assisted him as he transitioned into independent living, supplying him with support for accommodation, food, and a few simple tools.
Oscar is living completely independently now, working as a welder and saving money to start his own welding business and hire an assistant. He is forever grateful to Retrak, saying,
“I can’t imagine where I am now compared with two years back when food and shelter were my priority concerns. Today I can afford to eat what I choose and have a rented room for my home. Retrak you mean the world to me for without you I would not have had a chance to live again”
Our work is vital to children like Oscar and to the thousands more like him who are living outside of the protection of a loving family. We wouldn’t be able to do this work without the support of donors like you. Thank you for helping make our work possible!
#GivingTuesday has finally arrived! This is an exciting opportunity for Retrak, because Microsoft is giving a 100% match to any gift that you make to Retrak through GlobalGiving, up to $500!
Please donate soon, as matching funds may run out quickly. By donating to Retrak today, you can double the impact that Retrak makes with children living on the streets of Africa, helping them return to a loving home and family.
Your donation will help children like Ayana, a young Ethiopian girl who was sent by her aunt to a life of domestic servitude when she was 5 years old. In exchange for food and shelter, Ayana spent her days scrubbing floors, washing clothes and preparing meals for a family. When she was 14 years old, her employer beat her and forced her out onto the streets. Fortunately for Ayana, Retrak heard of her situation and stepped in to help. Ayana was reintegrated with her family and is living in a stable, loving and supportive home. You can read more about Ayana here.
Fred is another child who was helped by Retrak. Retrak’s outreach workers in Kampala, Uganda, met Fred for the first time during a regular soccer training session. Activities like these, held near the streets where the children live, provide a chance to get to know the children and for them to understand what Retrak can offer. Over the course of the following week, Fred joined in with soccer and other games, as well as getting good meals and attending the education and life-skills classes at the drop-in center. By the end of the week, Retrak’s outreach worker had learned that Fred had been on the streets for some time. Since he hated getting dirty and sleeping outside, he mopped the floor in a video hall every evening so that he could sleep inside. He had run away from home after his parents divorced and his father wouldn’t care for him.
After 5 months of counseling and preparation at the halfway home, Fred was able to return to live with his mother. He’s now settled at home and is back in school. You can read more of Fred’s story here.
On behalf of Ayana and Fred, and the thousands of vulnerable children that Retrak works with every year, thank you again for supporting us in our vital work in Africa. Please make a #GivingTuesday donation today!
In 2013 Retrak began a partnership with Chisomo Children’s Club in Malawi, to change the lives of street children in the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre. Before we could begin our work with the children, we needed to make some major changes. We're delighted to report that, since our last progress report, we've recruited a nurse, a teacher, a nighttime caregiver, a finance manager and a monitoring and evaluation officer for the project in Lilongwe. Major renovations to the drop-in center have also been completed. Reaching these milestones means that we can finally begin our real work:
Outreach has started!
We now have fifteen children safely in the center who were previously struggling to survive on the street. The children are participating in a full day's program involving counseling, medical care and catch-up education. When they're ready, our staff will start to work to return them home to loving families.
The renovations and the staff hirings at the center in Lilongwe were made possible through the generosity of donors like you. We are so grateful for your continued support.
Why are these children smiling? Because today, starting at 12:00pm (noon) EST, Microsoft YouthSpark will match 100% of any donation that’s made to Retrak through GlobalGiving!
Please help Retrak take advantage of this remarkable opportunity by making your donation today. Your contribution will help children like Fred, who was born HIV-positive. He was just 9 years old when his mother died of AIDS. Two years later his father deserted him and Fred followed some boys from his rural village to Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Fred says, “I had no strength to scavenge for food or to work. The public rejected and mistreated me. HIV/AIDS was threatening to take my life. ‘Where is my daddy?’ I kept asking myself.”
Then came what Fred calls “a miracle day”. On the streets, Fred met Elvis, a Retrak social worker, who brought him to their drop-in center and later to their transitional home. Eventually Fred was placed with a foster family. Fred says, “Retrak gave me a second chance to live a new life. I was loved, cared for, treated, fed, clothed and housed. I left the transition home to go to live with my foster family, and finally I had an answer to the question, Where is my daddy? I had a new family. My past troubles were behind me. I had a new song and a big dream. Thank you!”
Fred’s story has a happy ending thanks to donors like you. You can create more happy endings by making another donation today, while the Microsoft YouthSpark 100% match is in effect.
Microsoft’s match will begin at 12:00pm today, and please… make your donation soon! Funds are limited and may run out quickly.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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US Country Director