Our organisation has been active in Kitale for almost 30 years and has seen many changes in the area and has responded by changing its tactics to deal with changing propulation and problems. Our biggest change is an approach that combines a greater emphasis on prevention with emergency rescue. We have realised that simply rescuing children and sending them home is a short term solution. We must not only empower their homes to enable them to care for those particular children, but we must empower their communities to do likewise. We must give families tools to provide for their children in sufficient measure that those children will not need to seek out opportunities on the streets.
As we reintegrate children, we learn as much as we can about their family members and the challenges they face as well as the opportunities we may be able to help them with. Having operated for as long as we have, has enabled us to see children that we rescued off the streets a decade ago growing up within families and then facing challenges as they transition into being young adults who want to make lives for themselves and have children of their own. We have developed initiatives to help these youths. We form youths between the ages of 16 and 25 into Associations - these are self-help groups of boys and girls. A social worker meets with them weekly initially to cousel and mentor them and the meetings are minuted, saving scheme established, rules drawn up by the members etc. Our social workers teach self-esteem, budget skills, simple life skills. Over time, the youths are enrolled in various training and business courses and opportunities while also trying to find opportunities for their Association to perhaps set up a small business in which they all have a stake. The idea is to train and benefit the individuals while giving them the strength of a group. In time, the group may be able to access loans and grants to help propel it forward. In the meantime, they help and support each other emotionally. As the members finish various vocational training courses, they are gifted with tools for their new trade or helped to set up small businesses. The Association stays together long after the training phase and continues to provide a support network for its members. These members are the future parents of Kitale and it is vital that they can go forward equipped to bring children into families that have a good chance of caring for them. These are children we hope to never have to rescue from the streets as these potential parents have been helped before reaching a crisis.
Sustainable solutions to children running away to the streets must include more preventitve measures to address problems in communities.
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