Helping street children to be Street Smart

by Child Rescue Kenya
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart
Helping street children to be Street Smart

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.

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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.  

Happy Christmas!

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Smart in new uniforms
Smart in new uniforms

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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To say this past year has been challenging for our Street Smart operation would be a huge understatement.  First of all, we had a full lockdown in March 2020 which went on for the remainder of the year.  This closed schools and centres such as ours and also put our mobile school on hold.  We faced many restrictions including a curfew which made it very difficult to do our street outreach work in the early mornings and evenings.  However, we did manage to continue a limited outreach and reintegrated many children home from the streets during 2020, providing as much assistance as we could in suffering households to ensure the children could safely remain home.  

In January, schools reopened but our centre faced fresh challenges from a major development programme in town which included demolishing a whole line of businesses (including our centre) to make way for a major new road and extension of the railway line.  So, imagine how down we were - finally allowed to reopen after 9 months, only to find ourselves 2 weeks later facing bulldozers.

As we scrambled to look at alternatives, we were tipped off that a further lockdown was in the works and we are currently now back in lockdown as Covid 19 numbers rise in Kenya.  

So, never an organisation to give up, we continue to look for funds and implement street outreach without using a drop in centre and working around curfew and regulations.  We are still successfully reintegrating children and doing all we can to assist with home-based care.  The good thing about the current lockdown is that businesses were not closed this time and so most families can still earn a living.  So our present outlook is more positive than all the months of 2020 when many businesses were forced to close.

We remain optimistic that, as better Covid 19 treatments are found and as more people can access the vaccines, the numbers will reduce and we will be able to find funding to open a new drop in centre.  In the meantime, we are reaching as many as we can.

Thanks for all your support at this difficult time.  

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It really has been hard to be positive and hopeful this past year.  However, we have a responsibility to children who have found their way to the streets of Kitale and we have simply had to be inventive and find different approaches.  In March, our Street Smart centre which acts as a drop-in centre for children was closed by government directive together with all such rescue centres and schools.  Our mobile school was no longer permitted to visit the streets.  Both of these are key tools to meet and form bonds with children.  They come to our centre and to the mobile school to find a meal, a listening ear and hope.  Our counsellors use these tools to establish trust with the children and to start the process of helping them find a life away from the dangers of the streets.  This is where the reunification with family starts.  In the past, our successful path to helping these children consisted of meeting them through the mobile school and drop-in centre, forming trust and relationship and, when the time was right either sending the child to the longer term rescue centre at Birunda or reintegrating them home directly from the street.  With the rescue centre at Birunda also closed all this time, we have had to work on direct reintegration and, to a large extent, this has worked better than we expected. 

However, reintegration only works if we can help the family to provide the nurturing, healthy home environment craved by the child.  In the past, assisting with food security, job training or small business grant for a parent in addition to assisting with school enrolment together with ongoing counselling has always worked wonders. A long term (2 to 3 years) monitoring with the family has ensured we can nip any problems in the bud.   

The socio-economic impact of Covid 19 on the families we work with has made our work doubly difficult.  So many have lost jobs and income, so many youths and children have been out of the education system due to 9 months of government closures and are frustrated with their situation.  We are battling more hopelessness and hunger than ever before.  

In January, it is expected that schools will reopen and, to some extent, this will help bring purpose to lives.  However, it will also be a major source of anxiety to parents who have struggled financially for so many months as they are now expected to fund transport, uniforms, books, shoes, and fees for those who are in boarding schools - the government places many children in boarding schools and the children will not be allowed to return unless they have paid their fees prior to arrival and they are in full uniform.   We will be facing more requests than ever before to help with these costs.  

We fully expect the numbers of people with Covid 19 to increase before we see a widely available vaccine in Kenya.  People travelling over the Christmas period and the back-to school impact is likely to increase numbers and it remains to be seen what impact that will have on potential school closures or further lockdowns and restrictions.  We are set for at least another 3 to 6 months of extreme hardship, however, there is light at the end of the tunnel in 2021.  We just need to do all we can to get through the next few months.  We need your help to not only get children off the streets but to help them remain at home and to provide help for that home until they can get back on their feet.  Please consider a small donation.  

We hope you all had a good Christmas despite the strange times we are in and we wish you all the very best for 2021!

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Organization Information

Child Rescue Kenya

Location: Kitale, North Rift - Kenya
Website:
Project Leader:
Su Corcoran
Kitale, North Rift Kenya
$3,875 raised of $8,500 goal
 
41 donations
$4,625 to go
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