,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!
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.
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.
In Kitale we have been getting the children ready for a new year at school. January is always a busy time of year, getting new uniform, stationary and other school resources for the children staying at CRK's long-term transition centre and for the children staying at home whose families need extra support. Our social workers also check in on the children we do not provide financial support for, but who we are still monitoring at home, to check that everything is in order for the new year at school. Despite the busy-ness it is always a lovely time of year, watching them continue with their journeys at home, especially those who have more recently been reintegrated. One of those children this year is Brian.
Brian was not identified by our social workers on the streets of Kitale, but was picked up in Tanzania by another project working with street-connected children. CRK have been involved in an ongoing knowledge and skills exchange programme with RCA Mwanza and have been collaborating with them and other organisations to ensure that children who cross country borders during their migrations to the street are assisted to return. Brian had informed the social workers in Tanzania that his parents lived in Nairobi and CRK staff agreed to bring him back to Kenya in order to facilitate his reintegration.
Sadly, the reintegration process was not as straight forward as we had hoped. Brian gave us a telephone number for his stepmother, but she did not want him back home, asking that CRK look after him for good. Therefore, while CRK staff worked to find a solution to this problem, Brian was transferred to the long-term transition centre where he was able to attend Liyavo primary school.
Once he had settled in at Liyavo, and felt he could trust the staff, Brian eventually told us about a grandmother in Nyanza. He provided directions to his grandmother’s home, where social workers found her still mourning his disappearance. Brian orignally left home with a group of other boys, he says, when life at home became tough since he was used to life in Nairobi, he did not want to stay in the village without major social amenities. Although he lived with his siblings in the village, his parents had remained in Nairobi and he was not altogether happy with this arrangement.
When they visited, the social workers found a loving family, headed by both his grandparents. They have two cows that they milk and two acres of rocky land that is not suitable for growing crops, but is good for grazing. Brian’s father sends regular payments that sustain the needs of the family and their home was neat, well-maintained and organised.
Brian’s grandparents were keen to have him back and together with the social workers began to prepare for him to return to their care, and continue with his education, which is important if he is to complete school and become a doctor as he says he wants to. Being at their home also means that Brian can continue to establish lasting relationships with his siblings. He also agreed that being at his grandparents' home was a good option.
Brian was returned to his grandparents in September 2017 and completed the final term of the year in the local primary school. He has started back for the new year and we are looking forward to seeing what happens next in his education journey. We maintain regular communication with him and his grandmother by phone, and will conduct a home visit in the next few months. He is so far doing well and adapting to the life back in the village.
We are able to support children like Brian because of your support. Thank you again for choosing CRK.
With one month left to go of 2017 we would like to take the time to thank you for all your support over the last year. It has been a year full of challenges brought about by two presidential elections and the drought affecting North eastern Kenya. With your help, and support from other donors we have been able to continue with our work and reach out to more children like David.
David is 13 years old and lives with his father, sister, and twin brother. David's father is an alcoholic and subjected the children to verbal and physical abuse. David chose to walk 15km to Kitale to escape this abuse, while his siblings took refuge at paternal uncle. Because CRK conducts regular outreach work around the town and the social workers walk the streets daily to check in with the children living and working in the area, they were able to identify David as a new arrival and start a process of reintegration.
Working closely with the local children's police unit, David was taken to CRK's centre at Birunda. At the centre, David was looked after by the staff and began to settle in and make friends with the other children. He gradually started to feel happy and to tell the staff about his home situation. CRK began to work with David’s uncle, with whom his siblings were staying, with the aim of reintegrating him back into a family home and making sure that all the children were safe and being adequately supported.
David's extended family practice small scale mixed farming (both crops and animals) in a remote area that experiences water logging during rainy seasons. Their housing consists of semi-permanent iron sheet roofed houses, which can be cold (especially during the rainy season). Including David and his siblings, six children live with the uncle. Initially, family visits were carried out to begin counselling the father about responsible parenting and preparing the uncle and his wife to take on parental responsibility for the children.
The sessions with the father helped him to identify his strengths and aspirations in life and what he needed to do to work towards achieving them. He was also encouraged to change his attitidues and recognise that he had been abusing his children becasue he didn't know how to deal with his frustrations and had become violent towards them instead of caring for them.
Both David's father and his unlce were given training in bio-intensive agriculture, to help improve the yields from their land, and ongoing psychosocial support. David has been reintegrated back to into his family, where his uncle takes on responsibility for ensuring that the children are cared for and supporting his brother, David's father, to maintain his positive life changes.
CRK have assisted the family with school uniform to get the children enrolled in school. David is currently in class 5. He is good at mathematics, wants to be an accountant in a bank and hopes to be a good father to his children in the future. Ensuring that children are able to enjoy supportive family environments, and consequently stay in school, is at the centre of our work and support from donors like you ensure that we are able to continue to provide support to the children arriving on the streets of Kitale.
If you are considering supporting CRK projects this Christmas, GlobalGiving are currently running the Year-End Campaign, which gives organisations participating the chance to win prizes (based on the number of donors and the total amount raised) until December 31st 2017. As part of this campaign, the first installment of all recurring monthly donations up to $200 (approx £150) will be matched 100% (as long as they remain active for three months).
Whether or not you do support us in the Year-End Campaign, thank you so much for your support of CRK's work in 2017. We are very grateful for all the help you have extended to the organisation. We hope that your December celebrations, if you are celebrating, are wonderful and wish you all the best for the coming year.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Pay Bill: 891300
Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.Start a Fundraiser