Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Situation of Street Children

A goal of Kaya Children’s mission is to not only serve the children in our program, but to also reach out to those children still living on the streets. Kaya has a street outreach team that goes out onto the streets and visits with these street children two times a week – Monday night and Saturday morning. The team offers first aid and shares snacks with the children, with the purpose of cultivating a friendship with the children and encouraging them to leave the streets. The goal of the street outreach team is to help street children believe that they have the capacity and the skills for a better life – a life with purpose.

It has become increasingly difficult to live on the streets. The problems that street children face are several and varied. Street children experience the rejection of their own families, as the majority of children living on the streets come from families with a stepfather or stepmother who mistreats the children, resulting in the children’s biological parents rejecting their children as well to be accepted by their new partner. Street children furthermore face discrimination from society as a whole. Authorities do not let them stay in one place for long, will burn the children’s shelters and belongings, and abuse them. There is also a lot of abuse within the street children population, oftentimes with the older children abusing the younger ones. Ironically enough, one of the greatest problems street children face is the extortion of the police who will use violence or intimidation to coerce children into stealing items such as cell phones, which the police will either take or buy from the children. While the conditions of living on the streets have stayed mostly constant since earlier times, the increase in police corruption is evident and a growing problem.

Although it is difficult to completely repair the situation, it is imperative that we make an effort to address this issue. We can do this in three ways: prevention, rescue, and strategic alliances.

Prevention: It is important to work specifically with families at risk in order to prevent children from leaving their homes for the streets before they actually make that transition. This can be done through therapy, training, and counsel for the children’s parents and the enrollment of children into our day program or an equivalent to ensure structure during children’s free hours, when they are more susceptible to wandering the streets.

Rescue: The street outreach team deals specifically with this issue. We want to provide the opportunity for a better life to the children who are already living on the streets. Our goal is to build friendships with these children while they are still on the streets and encourage them to enter our residential program, with the purpose of helping them reintegrate into society. This is supplemented through working with the children’s families to equip them with the tools to support the smooth transition of the children off the streets, into our program, and eventually to their own independence.

Strategic Alliances: It is important to also build relationships and work in conjunction with other institutions and organizations that contribute different services, such as with local universities that offer trained students who intern as tutors with us, so that we can utilize these services and provide the children in our program with high quality care and services.

Undoubtedly, the street children’s situations is enormous and the work is arduous; however, it is not impossible to work to help these children. At Kaya Children, we believe that each child is important and that we need to serve those in need – those who are without a family, without love, and without hope – so that we give them another opportunity to have a more purposeful life and dream of a better future.

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