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
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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Since covid 19 struck earlier this year, we have not been able to make the progress we would have liked with our project.  Many of our activities have been hampered by a combination of government restrictions, necessary caution and a reduction in donor funding.

Usually, August sees us receiving visitors from overseas, in particular students, who participate as volunteers in our mobile school outreach and, in turn, assist in our fundraising efforts.  This year, we have received no visitors due to covid 19 restrictions and, this has the knock-on effect of also affecting future donations.  And, this was exacerbated by a regular donor, who relies on fundraising through sponsored marathons, concerts etc in Europe, having to stop funding as such events cannot be held.

We were forced to close our street drop-in centre in March when the Kenyan government implemented 'lock-down' and closed all schools and rescue centres.  Schools and rescue centres remain closed and this is likely to stay in effect until at least January.  We put in extra efforts to reintegrate children on the streets in March to reduce numbers living on the streets of Kitale, knowing that we would not have a rescue facility available for the foreseeable future and our outreach work on the streets would be severely hampered by lock-down restrictions.

We concentrated our efforts in assisting the families of children we had reintegrated from the streets in the early part of 2020 and others in need, to avoid any possibility of those children sufferering from deprivation at home or feeling the need to run away again.  This aid took the form of our social workers visiting those families and taking emergency aid packages to them to ensure they could feed their families and also to provide emotional support.  This has been successful and we continue to do this.

When lockdown was lifted a few weeks ago, many families could once again resume some of their economic activiities such as small market stalls and casual jobs and this has helped them considerably, following on from four months of no real income.  Kenya does not have any social welfare support system.  Inability to work or trade means zero financial income.

Unfortunately, lifting of lock-down, and no schools being open, has meant that children have started to drift back to the streets of Kitale.  We are again doing outreach and trying to reintegrate children but this is being made more difficult by not being able to utilise our drop-in centre or mobile school as both facilities remain closed due to government restricitions.  

We continue to need help reintegrating children to keep them off the streets as much as possible.  In order to keep children at home, we still need to be able to provide their families with help to ensure the home remains a place of comfort, safety and enough food on the table until such time as covid 19 is completely under control and people can go back to normal life including school and jobs.  Many families rely on schools and sponsored or subsided schooling and school meals to help out in this regard.  School feeding programmes and regular classes help keep children fed and occupied and reduce the influx to the streets.   We need to step in and do what we can to keep children well fed and happy at home.

Thank you for your support in these trying times.

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Street Smart team
Street Smart team

At the end of every financial year, we sit down and plan our work for the following year.  We work out our budgets and workplans based on projected income and the results we would like to see.  We assess the number of children we can reach on the streets with a view to reintegrating them into safe and loving families and we work out how much support we can give those families to ensure the child can stay at home and the family have their basic needs met.  We look at education for the child that is taken home, and their siblings.  We also look at potential training and assistance in setting up income generation for older siblings or parent.  Taking a child home is a waste of resources unless we can ensure that the home is secure in terms of food and income, that any counselling of family members needed can be undertaken, and that those who should be in school have their needs met to enable that.    This is why we have a good success rate with our reintegrations and we can reduce the numbers of children from a family returning to the streets and prevent younger members of that family taking to the streets.  

Well, this year is a little bit different to our usual!  In the latter part of March, the Kenyan government announced a serious of measures to reduce the impact of Coronavirus in the country.  Being a third world country, we simply do not have the medical resources to cope with a large outbreak, nor do the majority of the population have access to any type of medical insurance or social security to cover medical costs or to compensate for loss of work at this time.  Schools were closed and gatherings banned.  This has not stopped our outreach work but has considerably changed how we work and what we can do.  We are now working well away from our projected plan for 2020.

At one stage, Kitale had a major lockdown.  This has been eased but there are still many restrictions in force.  We have a curfew from 7pm to 5am.  This has meant our outreach workers have not been able to do night time street patrols to check up on those living on the streets.  Our Street Smart drop in centre was closed as it was deemed to be a school or gathering place.  So, we have had to revert to our workers doing daytime street patrols and outreach.  We have not been able to utilise our mobile school.  We have continued to reintegrate children home and to provide aid at home.  As we are trying to reintegrate children at a faster rate than in the past, we are taking them home before we have implemented some of our medium to long term programs such as training, counselling and business set up.  This means we are diverting funds from the Street Smart centre into providing emergency food parcels, blankets etc and our staff are making more home visits than usual.  We are anxious to get as many children off the streets as possible.  We realise that they are going to homes where they are receiving little by way of home schooling and where the main breadwinners have likely had their income affected by coronavirus closures, but they are safer there.  We are going through a very wet rainy season and, if we continue with the curfews and lockdowns, those children are in danger from police patrols and beatings in addition to illness.  

During this trying time, we ask you to imagine what it is like for a household where income has been affected by coronavirus restrictions, there is no social security or unemployment benefit, there are likely no resources for home education, there is no internet or television for entertainment - and it is raining.  Please don't forget these children.  We are trying to make their lives more comfortable until such time as coronavirus can be controlled.  There is hope!

Street Smart Family worker with reintegrated child
Street Smart Family worker with reintegrated child
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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
 
40 donations
$4,625 to go
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Pay Bill: 891300
Account: GG19969

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