A Street is no place for a child to call 'home'.
- Children’s home
A Street is no place for a child to call ‘home’.
But it is estimated that there are over 100 million street children in the world.
Why do children end up on the streets?
Children end up on the streets for a mixture of reasons, though poverty is usually at the heart of the problem. In the countries where we work, conflict and poverty combine to force children onto the streets. In many cases a child’s family can no longer afford to care for them properly or may need their help to supplement the family income and help put food on the table.
Or it could be that a child’s parents have been killed by conflict or HIV/AIDS, or they may have become separated when they were forced to flee their homes. In parts of Congo and Uganda, South Sudan families and communities sometimes accuse children of being witches and for bringing bad luck upon them. Some tome girls may end up on the streets after they have been forced to leave home for committing ‘honour crimes’ like adultery (i.e. being raped or sexually abused) or refusing an arranged marriage. Boys may end up on the street to help support their parent’s opium addiction.
Some children spend the daytime on the streets (to beg or to work) but return to their families at night. For others, the streets are their home and they have nowhere else to go.
What do they do on the streets?
Life on the streets is a dangerous, harsh existence and most street children become extraordinarily resilient and inventive in order to simply survive. On the streets they may earn money in a number of ways including:
- Shoe shining, collecting rubbish for recycling, other menial tasks.
- Many girls are forced into prostitution or sex work in order to survive and are extremely vulnerable to abuse and violence.
Drug abuse is a problem for many street children – it’s often the only way of escaping a horrific existence – if only for a few hours. Many street kids are the victims of violence – with the police often acting as perpetrators rather than protectors.
What is Hands Of Hope East Africa doing?
Because the root causes of the problem are so complex, it’s not simply a case of finding children on the streets and sending them home to their families. Many left their families in the first place because of abuse or because their family weren’t able to provide for them. Without addressing these problems, the children would almost certainly just end up on the streets again sooner rather than later.
Where it is deemed that the child’s home (village) is the best place for them, we’ll help their family earn a decent income so they are better able to provide for their kids.
In some cases (e.g. those relating to abuse, witchcraft, honour crimes etc) a child’s family home may not be the safest and most appropriate environment for them to return to. In that case we help to provide the children with the life skills, education and training that can enable them to be self-sufficient and earn an income of their own.
Although life on the streets is tough, the only realistic solution is often to help keep them safe whilst they’re there and giving them or their families the skills to earn a decent income.
Since our founding, we have committed ourselves to rescuing children who are living on the streets full-time. Through street outreach and partnerships with other organizations in our city, we seek to serve children in extremely critical circumstances who have little or no external assistance.
With each child we serve, our staff conducts a “home trace” to locate and establish contact with their closest living relatives. If a child can be reunited with his or her family that is always our preference. It is our desire to reconnect children to their families, so in every situation we strive to restore the family unit by involving and maintaining relationships with parents if and when possible. If the family is willing to care for the child but unable to do so for financial reasons, we may work with the family to provide the child with an academic scholarship.
We are committed to seeking, securing, and promoting social justice for needy children. We work to meet the immediate needs of those living on the streets to give them a chance to reach their potential. We also work toward a future in which no child needs to call the streets home. We serve this mission in three ways:
We offer a variety of intervention services to street-involved children. We meet them where they are and help them reach their full potential. Every child deserves this. Period.
We act on behalf of street-involved children, raising public awareness of their needs, and influencing policies and practices that protect and enhance their human rights.
We collaborate with agencies, institutions, and others around the world to share resources and knowledge. Working together is our best hope for preventing future suffering.