Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale

by Child Rescue Kenya
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Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale
Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale

Now that most restrictions have been lifted and there is more freedom of movement, life is going back to how it was pre-Covid on the streets of Kitale, more or less.  There have been changed of course. A new road widening scheme bulldozed our our drop-in centre and we have not been in a strong enough financial position to rebuild - property prices, like everything else in Kenya, have sky rocketed.  Youths and children are returning to the streets in large numbers including many driven by sever drought in the north (even usually fertile Kitale is suffering drought but not as extreme).  Families are struggling with an unbearable price increase on basic commodities such as maize - as much as fifty percent in the past six months.

So now, more than ever, our project to aid street connected youth and assist their families to find ways to support themselves, is vital.  

We have been able to get our mobile school up and running again and this is a great aid in connecting with children and forming relationships to enable reintegration.

Hopefully the next step can be a new drop in centre but in the meantime we continue with vital street outreach.

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Social worker with two children on the streets
Social worker with two children on the streets

We are still languishing in the heat of an exceptionally long dry hot season.  This has brought drought to regions to the north of us where drought is becoming more of a norm than an occasional disaster. This alone is a reason for a surge in the numbers of families and children seeking help in the urban centre of Kitale and the adjacent farmland where rainfall is more frequent.

Unfortunately, we are not just contending with the effects of ongoing drought.  We are still being impacted by the affects of Covid 19 on local businesses and household income, not to mention its impact on regular donors who are struggling to send support to us as they have all been affected by the financial woes of Covid.

And, to cap it all, Kenya is currently suffering an economic crisis impacting its poorest members.  Our inflation rate is worrying and the worst affected commodities are the basics such as flour, oil, sugar, cereals.  Some items have increased by as much as 25 to 30 percent even though the overall inflation rate is much lower.  Fuel costs have been creeping up as they are globally.  

Kenya faces national elections in early August and we await their outcome - hoping that the results will be met with peace and not a return of the post-election violence witnessed in the past.  This year is already one of struggle and we sincerely hope that the discontent and worry we see around at the moment will not translate into taking out frustrations after the election.  In the meantime, we are doing our best to reintegrate children off the streets as quickly as we can with the funds available to try and reduce the potential of children being caught up in such issues in August.

2022 is bringing us many challenges but, with your help, we can continue to make life better for many of the children desperately needing help in Kitale and its surrounds.  Thank you for your continued support!

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Queuing for food aid in drought area
Queuing for food aid in drought area

I suppose everyone goes through it in life - a really successful day/project/meeting/week etc and you go around with a smile on your face feeling satisfied that your efforts really paid off and something or someone has benefitted as a result.  That is the way it is in the charity world - we have weeks when we see tremendous results and, then after a short while of basking in the success of one project, something happens that is beyond our control and we feel helpless again and wonder what we can do to solve a new problem.

We all went through this in 2021 when Covid smacked us in the face and delayed projects, closed projects, affected donations, affected donors, and left so many suffering.  But we struggled through and found new ways to approach things, did our best and - at the end of the year - found ourselves smiling (briefly) again when schools went back to normal in Kenya and most people could go back to work.

As we are just about getting all our programs back on track, we have been hit with two new problems which we want to be able to tackle.  One is the considerable number of teen pregnancies resulting from children being home, idle and out of school for most of 2020 and the other one is drought which has once again hit northern Kenya.  

Both issues will impact street connected children in Kitale, however, the most pressing will be the number of families and children who will flee northern Kenya and take the (only) road down south to Kitale, the first major town on the way out of the arid regions.  This situation is a repeat of serious drought which affected us a few years ago and we rallied to deal with the influx of displaced people and to try and retrain and resettle them.  It is so upsetting to have to deal with this tragic situation again and we suspect that the impact of climate change on Africa is going to make this a familiar issue in the future.  Currently almost a million people are seriously impacted and in need of food and water aid or relocation.

We need help to get new arrivals off the streets and into safe accommodation.  We need help to reintegrate children with families and to help those families examine new ways to survive the impact of climate change.  This may mean helping them to relocate or helping a family member to learn a trade or set up a small business.  These are people unfamiliar with the ways of urban living and the modern world who not only need physical food relief but need to learn new life skills.  We have found that working with a family intensively for 6 months to a year enables them to become self supporting and independent.  We maintain contact with them for 3 years to ensure that all remains well with them and their input is vital in helping us form suitable programmes for the future. 

We are also in the throes of establishing our teen mother programme aimed at preventing those girls from ending up on the streets or destitute and also preventing their children ultimately requiring rescue from the streets.  

As Christmas approaches, please consider a small donation to help those whose livelihoods have been destroyed by Covid and drought.  Thank you.

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Boys in their uniforms for school
Boys in their uniforms for school

Since our last report, we are pleased to be able to tell our supporters that, although we are not back to normal, (will we ever be?) we are continuing to make progress and find alternative ways to help children and families in Kitale and surrounding areas.  Despite our county being put into another lockdown a month ago, we have still been able to continue our family reintegration and support work.  Thankfully, schools and colleges have remained open this year and being able to keep children in the education system this year has been particularly rewarding.   We have also been able to place over 100 youths in vocational training programmes which will enable them to find employment or be self-employed when they finish their courses.   Fingers crossed, with no further interruptions to education this year, we will be celebrating a lot of graduations at the end of the year. 

To date, we have not reopened our Street Smart centre.  This has been for a number of reasons including covid regulations, insufficient funding to rebuild it and a new approach that we are working on to enable us to do reintegrations directly from our office to home without needing the intermediary building - at least for the time being.  We hope soon to be able to rebuild and start our mobile school again but, for now, it is important that we do as much as possible to prevent children reaching the streets and avoid them being in town for any length of time during curfews, lockdowns and covid in general.  So, we continue to work within communities to try and identify problem cases as early as possible and we patrol the streets so our outreach team can get children home or into suitable temporary care as quickly as we can.  

Schools are closing today for a two week break after which children will progress into the next academic standard.  Due to the long closure last year, holidays have been shortened and terms lengthened to allow a catch-up and avoid children being put back a grade.  Usually, the academic year would start in January not the end of July.  However, this seems to be working and is certainly preferable to children repeating a year of schooling.  An unplanned benefit of the shorter holiday is less likelihood of children taking to the streets after many weeks at home, particularly in cases of little food, abuse, neglect or just boredom.  So, we hope that being present in communities over this break, we can keep the numbers on the streets to a manageable level.

We wish you all the best during these difficult times.  We have been lucky that, so far, Kenya seems to have kept this pandemic under control and we are not seeing huge numbers of people needing hospitalisation.  However, the economic impact has been huge and we have no social security or welfare safety nets.   

Thank you for all your support.

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2020 was disastrous for our work on the streets of Kitale.  The Government lockdown from March until December included closure of our drop-in centre for street children (Street Smart) and not being able to take our mobile school out on the streets.  Our outreach workers could do limited work directly on the streets though and we we did manage to reintegrate more children than we thought would be possible.  Children on the streets were simply not being tolerated by authorities and could see the wisdom of remaining home through the pandemic.  However, remaining at home brought many challenges for families.  Children were out of school (schools were closed from March 2020 until January 2021) and therefore posing new challenges to parents who already were coping with limitations on what they themselves could do, loss of employment and income during the lockdown, reduction in household income etc.  

We shifted our resources from Street Smart and the Mobile School to providing home-based care for reintegrated children and delivered food parcels throughout the lockdown, while our social workers continued to visit families and children to ensure they were coping with the challenges of Covid 19.  So, we were not idle and we were able to help many families.

Sadly, part of the development plans for Kitale include a huge road improvement programme and the road widening not only destroyed our Street Smart centre which was bulldozed overnight, but destroyed small business and market stalls devastating the livelihoods of hundreds of families, many of whom were just recovering from 9 months of lockdowns.  

So, although 2021 got off to a rocky start, the opening of schools and lifting of many restrictions in January, has enabled us to switch our focus back into our prevention work and into getting children and youths back into schools and training programmes.  We are optimistic that most of our old programmes can start up again in the course of the next three months and we will be able to continue with our reintegration work as intended.

Kenyan schools close this week for a 7 week break while exams take place and we are pleased that we will be able to work with families during this time to ensure their children are prepared to be at home and ready to rejoin school in May.  We have seen a rise in teen pregnancies as a result of the long time children and youth spent out of school last year and we are now looking at a new project working with teen mothers - watch this space!

Thanks for all your support during these difficult times.

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Organization Information

Child Rescue Kenya

Location: Kitale, North Rift - Kenya
Website:
Project Leader:
Su Corcoran
Kitale, Kenya
$28,804 raised of $50,000 goal
 
412 donations
$21,196 to go
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Pay Bill: 891300
Account: GG11009

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