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 Children  Kenya Project #11009

Reintegrate Street-Connected Children in Kitale

by Child Rescue Kenya
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
Family planting smallholding
Family planting smallholding

It’s raining! After an abnormally long dry spell, finally some rain has come our way in Kitale! This is a great relief to farmers and consumers alike as the last thing a country with a large proportion of people below the poverty line need is a drought with food shortages and high prices. As we reintegrate children to families, we are mindful of what we can do to help them find sustainable solutions to one of their major problems – that of providing food on the table. Families we work with are usually in the slum areas on the outskirts of town with no land at all, or are subsistence farming on small plots which are often not owned by them.

We have run a very effective bio-intensive agriculture program over the past ten years. This teaches families how to maximize organic crop production in a very small area, with minimal costly inputs. A family in a slum can grow some fresh vegetables in a tower garden in a sack or, with their neighbours, can plant several sacks in the grounds of a nearby school or church thus ensuring no pilfering. A smallholder can learn the best crops to grow side by side to deter pests and avoid chemicals, and how to nourish the soil without costly fertilizers.

Lack of food is one of the top three reasons for children running away from home to the streets and assurance of a full belly is one of the best motivators to get that child home again. Obviously not all families can grow their own food and these families are assisted through small business grants or training in a trade in order to be able to buy their food.

Good nutrition and adequate food supply is essential to reducing stress in the home and enabling children to attend school and concentrate on their studies. While we are getting families on their feet, we often provide a short term ‘food basket’ of essential items for a few months and, we have found that by empowering families to feed themselves, that ‘handout’ is only ever needed on a short term basis.

Dry and dusty
Dry and dusty

January is a hot, dry and dusty month in Kitale. It brings respite from cold and wet nights for those living on the streets of Kitale and, perhaps, in doing so, makes new arrivals consider street life is not too onerous.  It is a time of hunger in homes as it is the middle of the dry season and food stores are running low and funds for school supplies are a struggle. It is some months until planting season will start.

January is also CRK’s busiest month. In addition to trying to get to know the new arrivals and convince them that the streets are not the wisest choice, we are very busy getting recently reintegrated children into schools as the academic year commences on the first working day after New Year’s Day. This involves buying new uniforms and shoes, visiting the families and schools to enroll students, paying fees and costs. Our social workers are very much engaged in family work during January and also have to cope with new arrivals to our Street Smart centre, new children reached through early morning street walks, and our mobile school outreach.

In mid 2018, we entered into a working partnership with another organization who follow our model of rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate. Working together and sharing resources and information on children we work with, has enabled us together to reintegrate well over 250 children in the past 7 months, the majority of whom entered school in January 2019. These are children who otherwise have fallen prey to illness, addiction to sniffing glue or drinking cheap alcohol or other dangers. Some of that number (the younger ones) may have been lucky enough to have avoided those pitfalls by being placed in long term children’s institutions. Although off the streets, they may not necessarily have been taken into a totally safe institution and, in all likelihood, even in a ‘good’ institution, contact with their family and community would cease and a family that had every possibility of being helped and held together, would be broken and the parent-child relationship severed.

We are keen to avoid long-term institutionalization wherever possible and, in cases where a family simply needs a helping hand to care for their child, we believe it is in the best interests of the child to remain in their family. In most cases, poverty is the driving factor for life on the streets and, poverty can be alleviated and means found to help families enter a sustainable improved lifestyle. Our work has impact and our reintegration model works….. and with your help, will continue!

Too dry to plant
Too dry to plant
Children in uniform
Children in uniform
Playing games at Street Smart drop in centre
Playing games at Street Smart drop in centre

,At CRK, we dread the long school holidays. Kenyan schools close in the last week of October to allow for the exams to take place at the beginning of November.  Children are then off school until the first week in January.  This leaves many children without a safe outlet for over two months, during which time they find trouble or trouble finds them!  Children living in the slum areas on the outskirts of large urban centres, have little to entertain them during this time.  Often, their parents or guardians are out working and not around during the daytime to keep an eye on them. Their rural counterparts are kept busy helping out on smallholdings but, those with no chores to keep them occupied start to drift towards the town centres and street life, both as a way of foraging for food, odd jobs and money and as a way of finding company and entertainment.  This is a dangerous time for many of these youngsters who are easily drawn into the dangers of street life.  During the school holidays, the number of children on the streets swells.  The only good thing is that the majority of this new population at least have a home to return to in the evenings, however, many get caught up in the dangers of cheap drugs, alcohol and glue sniffing or get into trouble with the police.  Our resources are stretched during this time.  

Our mobile school is proving a useful resource.  This is a way of entertaining children and keeping them away from dangerous temptations.  It also encourages children to 'open up' and tell us any problems or issues in their lives.  It enables us to help those who are really living completely on the street as well as enabling early intervention for those who are in danger of ending up on the street full time. 

The weather at this time is warm and dry and that, sadly, is yet another encouragement to children to spend longer than they should on the streets of towns and cities.  As urbanisation continues, the problem increases year on year.  Goverment funding here does not stretch to basketball courts, football pitches, youth centres and these are sorely needed.  Facilities such as this would go a long way to help us reintegrate and keep children in their home communities.  Lack of stimulation and entertainment is one of many factors driving them to the streets.

We continue to look for resources and funding to find alternatives to keep children entertained and engaged through sports or other activities and we ask you to consider a Christmas gift to enable us to help families keep their children at home, in their communities and off the streets.  Please consider us this Christmas.  The extra numbers of children we will encounter in the forthcoming weeks will be needing help with uniforms and school supplies in January and will have brothers, sisters or guardians needing help in training or apprenticeships to become financially self-sufficient to care for those children.  Your gift will help them.  Thank you!

A Family business
A Family business

Dear Supporters,

We hope that this report finds you well.

It is the school holiday here in Kenya. The children have a month at home at this time of year. So life at CRK is as busy as usual.

We are conducting more outreach on the streets to engage with the larger number of children that we tend to see there during the break. A number of the schools have feeding programmes that do not run in the holidays and so children come to the streets to find money and food to see them and their families through the month. We encourage the children to join us at our Street Smart centre where they can eat, and engage them in classroom and sports-based activities.

We are supporting a number of young people through school and the new term will see some of them getting ready for their Kenya Certificate of Primary (and Secondary) examinations. There are therefore some children who are trying to study as well as helping their families. 

To ensure that all of the children we work with are supported, we are increasing our work with families to help them make the most of their land and/or start their own businesses. In the picture is a small family shop that we have helped to set up. Assisting families like this one to better support the children and keep them at school, we are not only helping young people to leave the street and stay in caring homes but we are also working to prevent oher children migrating to the street in the future.    

Thank you again for all your support of our work.

Best Wishes,

Theresa 

On the street
On the street

This month we want to tell you about one of the harder aspects of our work with street-connnected young people. In Kenya, and in other countries, authorities who want to show that they are dealing with the 'street child problem' to make the town look cleaner, will take an approach that is far from child-centred.  They use force to 'round-up' the children from the streets. In Kitale, these round-ups can be an annual event - or more often if an election is coming up. Advocacy efforts by CRK have occasionally resulted in these round-ups being deferred to allow us to time to intervene and secure places of safety for the children while the roundups happen.  And we are working hard to persuade authorities that round-ups are ineffective in dealing with the issue of children on the streets in the long-term. 

Given that many children are on the streets because adults let them down, it takes time to build trust and support them through their reintegration journey. Our social workers work with young people on the street building relationships of trust and working with them to make decisions to leave the street in their own time. However, it is difficult to change the system of roundups as officials change, moving to new areas or being promoted and the new incumbents are not always aware of the effects of round-ups. Occasionally, the orders for round-ups come from outside the district at a higher level.  

Sadly, in early May, over 80 children were rounded up from the streets with no warning, and taken into cells, the majority them were boys aged between 6 and 14. The children spent the night in jail and received no food during this time.  In the morning, they were taken to the Magistrate’s Court, which was overwhelmed with the numbers and had to postpone its previously scheduled cases for the day.  We worked hard to get these children released into our care to avoid them remaining in an adult prison. 

Some of the older children ran off as soon as they were released, however, over 60 children agreed to go into our centre.  Over the next few days, a few more left us for the streets. Our social workers continue to work with these as part of their outreach programmes. Most of the children remain with us and we are working hard to counsel them, investigate their homes and the reasons for their being on the streets.  Some cases are simple to rectify and several children have already been taken home.  Some cases require longer term intervention at home to relieve poverty issues, mediate disagreements and provide counseling.  Some children need to be treated for addiction issues, or to be taken to a relative for care if their former home is not considered safe and welcoming.  These children will remain with us for up to six months while the reintegration process takes place. 

Usually, we have a target number of children in a month that we can reach out to and work with in a controlled manner to increase our likelihood of successful reintegration.  Like all organisations, we have a budget and limited manpower.  Round-ups put considerable pressure on our staff and finances.  Taking in 60 children involves extra food, mattresses, blankets, transport, medical and staff costs.  That has to be maintained beyond the initial emergency period of getting the children out of jail for as long as it takes to reintegrate them. However, we will do all we can to get these children to safe homes and to ask our supporters to try and help out financially.

In the meantime, we are partnering with other organisations in Kenya to more effectively work with the authorities to tackle the issue of children on the streets in a way that is acceptable and beneficial to all – especially the children.  No child should spend a night in jail for being in need of care and protection.

Thank you again for your support of CRK's work.

 

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Organization Information

Child Rescue Kenya

Location: Kitale, North Rift - Kenya
Website:
Project Leader:
Su Corcoran
Kitale, Kenya
$18,207 raised of $22,000 goal
 
239 donations
$3,793 to go
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