Retrak's partner project in Kenya, Child Rescue Kenya (CRK), works with street children - called chokora in kiswahili - in Kenya's Rift Valley District. In their own words, here's why some of them ended up on the streets:
Maurine (12) "After my mom died, my father started drinking. He sold our land and our cow. We stopped going to school and had to beg for food. Then people started coming to the house. They would get drunk. My brothers ran away and I followed when he started beating us".
Davie (5) "I lived with my parents and my grandmother. One night people I don't know came to our village; they were from another tribe. There was fire and people started screaming. So much fire. We ran and ran until we could no longer hear the screams or smell the smoke. Then I realized, I was alone".
Susan (8) "I did not know it was wrong. My stepfather used to come to me. It hurt a lot. One night I cried and the neighbors came. They beat him. The police brought me here. I like it here but I want to go home".
Erupe (9) "I am from the desert. We used to herd goats. Baba had over 30 and we could trade milk and meat for other things. As the ground got drier our goats started to die. We don't have any now, Baba also died. There is so much hunger in Turkana".
Every child who comes through CRK's doors has a unique story of how they ended up on the streets. Their stories are heartbreaking, but the good news is that every one of these children, and thousands before them, has returned to a home and family, thanks to the work of Child Rescue Kenya... and thanks to your support.
Why is this boy 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.
Retrak and Microsoft are teaming up to make your donation go even further! Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 16, starting at 12:00pm EST, Microsoft will provide a 50% match to any donation that you give to Retrak. If you give $100, Retrak will receive $150. A donation of $50 will become $75. Microsoft will match any gift that you give to any of Retrak's programs.
And if that's not enough, Microsoft will also match 100% of the first three months of any recurring donation that you sign up for.
Your gift to Retrak tomorrow will help street children in Africa like Zergaw, a boy who was found sad, weary and confused outside of a bus station in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He had been on the streets for three weeks, having left his isolated village to try to find work to help support his sisters and widowed mother. Retrak staff helped reunite him with his mother, who wept tears of joy upon seeing him again. Then they worked with Zergaw's mother to help her establish an income-generating business, and with his school so that he could return to class.
When Retrak returned a few months later, it was clear that the business was doing well. The whole family was better fed and looking healthy, and all the children were back in school. Zergaw's mother said, "I am very happy and so grateful for what Retrak has done for me and for my son!"
Thank you for your past support of Retrak's programs in Africa. Please help us continue to help these children by participating in Microsoft's Bonus Day tomorrow, starting at noon EST. Please be sure to make your donation early, as matching funds will run out quickly.
Retrak partners in Kitale, Kenya, with the charity Child Rescue Kenya (CRK). We spoke with their Program Oficer, Janet Kariuki, about their work with children on the streets of Kitale.
"Child Rescue Kenya started way back in 1988," Janet tells us, as part of the International Childcare Trust. In 2003 it changed its focus to reintegrating children with families rather than institutionalizing them. When asked what the main reasons are for children being on the streets in Kenya, Janet answers "Family finances. Poverty. Poverty forces children to the street. Poverty levels are high and families struggle. Also,violence in the family and community. Children come to town to try to find work and make money but after two or three weeks it does not work and families are lost."
CRK's biggest challenge, Janet says, is taking children back home. Finding safe homes for children is a constant challenge, as is ensuring that the homes they find are homes where the parents have enough income to send the children to school, provide food and support the children.
Janet says, "These are our children; we facilitate their choices and are there for them when and where needed."
Last year, thanks to the generosity of donors like you, CRK reached out to over 400 children on the streets of Kitale. How many children we can reach this year depends on you. Please make a donation to Retrak and CRK today, and make a real difference in the life of a street child.
Dear Retrak Supporter,
As 2013 draws to a close, all of us at Retrak want to thank you for supporting our work with street children in Africa. Retrak has had an eventful year; we expanded our programs into Malawi by partnering with an organization called the Chisomo Children’s Club in Blantyre, and we continued to reach more and more street children and their families through our programs in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. With your help, we’re coming closer to realizing our vision of a world where no child is forced to live on the streets.
On the eve of returning home to his family earlier this year, one child was moved to write a letter to a Retrak teacher, thanking him for all that he had done to help him return home. In this letter (reproduced below), he thanks “all the Retrak staff members” for our work. I’d like to pass his thanks on to you, our supporters, for making our work possible.
Wishing you the very best in 2014.
US Country Director
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US Country Director