As most of the work we do at Street Smart overlaps our other project Reintegrating Street Connected Children, to avoid confusion and duplication, we are going to deactivate this project on GlobalGiving and incorporate it fully within our other project. Thank you all for your support.
We continue to operate our Street Smart programme despite deactivating the project on here. Street Smart includes outreach by a team of trained and experienced social workers who patrol the streets and accompany our mobile school on its trips around town in order to meet new arrivals on the streets as soon as possible and to work with those we have previously met. They build up trust with these children and learn their stories and problems. This is followed by family visits, finding solutions for the problems experienced in the home and offering counselling services, mediation and home help such as food baskets, support with education and offering of vocational training opportunities or business grants to family members to improve the financial well being of the family. Most of the problems we encounter stem from poverty in the home and we do what we can to alleviate this and provide sustainable income generating solutions. In those cases where we cannot reintegrate a child into their former home or family eg due to illness or death of a family member, we will do everything we can to find a foster family or relative who will care for the child.
We have been dealing with a couple of weeks of uncertainty and face yet more. Schools closed two weeks ago to enable the general election to take place. Delays in announcing the results meant that schools went back a week late. Children out of school for whatever reason increases the likelihood of them going to the streets in search of food or money. We are glad to see them returning today but are worried that the election results are now likely to be contested and this could mean further disruption by way of violence or further election procedures. We have all gone through several weeks of worry and uncertainty dreading trouble and this has impacted businesses and communities all living in a state of 'stand by'.
An equally worrying issue is the constant increase in costs we are facing, especially the cost of basic commodities such as maize flour which has doubled in the past year. Basic foodstuffs are less affordable and the increased cost of fuel has a knock-on effect on most items. Although Kenya claims to provide 'free education' at both primary and secondary levels, this in reality is not the case. The tuition element of education is free but there are many other costs such as exam fees, purchase of books and paper and stationery, administration fees, desk fee (ie actually purchase a school desk), in addition to uniform, sports kit, shoes, lunch, transport and considerable boarding fees. Probably the majority of children in Kenya attend boarding schools by secondary level. This has been brought about by a number of factors including distance to school, tradition and the fact that in many families the parents are both working (often away from home). There are a few positives to boarding including regularity of meals, being in a safe environment, ability to study instead of being in a home without electricity,not having to travel long distances daily, not needing to do household chores during term etc. However, the downside of boarding is the increased cost to parents who are expected to pay the entire term up front, three times a year, and these costs have increased substantially. In addition, boarding students are expected to provide their own mattress, blankets, metal locker, basin, bucket, shoe polish, snacks, soap etc etc. All of these items have increased in cost in the past year.
The struggle for many parents is excruciating and leads to more children not attending school, dropping out or being moved to local day schools from boarding schools. This causes stress for the entire family and means we see these children on the streets and have more and more families needing our help to cover schooling costs.
Attached is an article setting out all this information.
Parents do all they can to enable their children to have an education which they see as their only possible escape from poverty and the sacrifices they make are becoming impossible to sustain.
Please spare a thought (and a small donation) to help children access their basic right to education.
April 2022 sees Child Rescue Kenya helping families to prepare their children for the new academic year that starts in the last week of this month. For many years now, we have found that a critical component of successful reintegration of street children has been continuity of education and, to that end, have always assisted with any school fees and costs, new uniform and other school requisities to ensure reintegrated children can access school. We are therefore busy right now helping families in need to acquire what is needed to get children to school on time next week,be it shopping for uniforms, excercise books or other needs. The new school year begins!
At the same time, many families we work with have prepared their small shambas (farms or gardens) for planting in anticipation of the (late) rainy season due to hit any day now. School children have spent the last couple of weeks of their holiday helping families prepare the land. Some families need help with seeds and tools. The planting season has begun!
In addition, many of our youths have just this week completed National vocational exams. These are optional national exams many apprentices can take to give them a further level of qualification to the regular Certiicate they receive on completion of our combined apprenticeship/college one year training course. Many have chosen to do this which we are very happy about as it shows a level of commitment to their new trades and their desire to improve their skills to the next level. Their new careers begin!
This month we are also undertaken an assessment of our youth training programme (undertaken by an external expert) to ensure we are meeting our targets and to get feedback from all stakeholders with a view to making any necessary improvements and, hopefully, increasing our student intake next year. This could be the beginning of something even bigger!
We are thankful for all your support and welcome your partnership as we move forward.
The end of the year always brings reviews and considerations of what was done during the year and what needs to be done next year. Of course 2020 and 2021 brought a lot of new challenges and issues for us to consider! Covid government regulations forced our Street Smart Centre to be closed for 9 months during lockdown and we had to find other ways to work with children on the streets. Hot on the heels of Covid, a major restructuring project in the centre of Kitale has seen huge swathes of demolished buildings and new roads being built. This has made it difficult to find a suitable place for a new centre (our old centre was a victim to the demolition). We have therefore had to rethink Street Smart as a drop-in centre and have been doing direct outreach on the streets. We have also made plans to relaunch our mobile school in January.
We have reviewed our projects on GlobalGiving and decided that it would make sense to integrate this project into another project on here - Reintegrate Street Connected Children in Kitale - as there is a lot of overlap now between the two projects. So, this will be our last report on Teaching Children to be Street Smart and we will merge the two projects into one. Our street outreach work has continued uninterrupted since our last report and we are succesfully reintegrating children directly from the streets to their homes and families. We are now in the Christmas holidays and the numbers of children on the streets has already started to increase as families struggle to make ends meet.
To replace this project on GlobalGiving, we will be uploading a new project in January which we are very excited about as it is so badly needed in Kitale. Our new project will be Assisting Teen Mothers. Covid saw a steep rise in teen pregnancies throughout Kenya for many reasons which will outline in the new project. We are delighted to be starting work with many of these young ladies and their babies with a view to helping them re-enter education or receive training to be able to find good jobs and care for their children. So, watch this space!
In the meantime, we wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and we look forward to reporting to you in the new year on how our revitalised and new projects are progressing. We cannot do this valuable work without your help and we appreciate every one of you.
August marked the start of the new academic year in Kenya. Usually, this particular academic year would have commenced in January but, with the long lock-down of 2020, the revised programme to catch up 'the lost year' has involved shortening holidays and cramming more into terms with a resultant change in dates of new academic years for this and next year. This has been very hard for many families to cope with as, the crammed school year has resulted in 4 terms in the past 12 months rather than the usual 3 with the accompanying financial burden of school fees and costs. Despite the claim that education is free in Kenya; this is not the case. Only the tuition element of education in government schools is free. As there are not enough government schools accessible to a large part of the population, many children have either to board at school or to attend private schools and this brings increased cost. There is still the cost of boarding supplies, books and stationary, transport, exam and administration fees, uniforms, bags and shoes etc. This is a considerable burden. As an example, one term of day school at a government high school (including lunch and transport, uniform etc) is the equivalent of one to two month's salary for a school teacher. One term of government boarding school would be approximately double that. In families where only one parent has a reasonable income and there are two or three children to educate, it would take most of their income just to pay schooling.
Understandably, at the beginning of this academic year our social workers were kept busy finding youngsters on the streets who should have been back at school but whose parents were still scrambling to find funds to pay fees or buy uniform for new schools where children were moving to high schools. Many children started back late and some have still not managed to get to school at all. These are families we are eager to help to get children the education they deserve and to get them off the streets while they await education.
We have also spent time with many parents discussing alternatives to high school education for some youths where vocational training may be a better and more affordable choice for them and many have entered various training programmes such as computer training, plumbing, electrical etc.
Please consider a small donation to help some of these children and youths to get a chance at their choice of education in school or vocation training. Thank you.
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