Sodzo International seeks to address the problems facing children living on the streets in three phases: Rescue, Restoration, and Reintegration.
Imagine a child of 8 years old, expelled from home by a violent parent. Then, imagine this child living, sleeping, eating, and working as a porter on the street instead of going to school, laughing around the family dinner table, or playing soccer with friends. Finally, imagine a child sniffing glue-inhalents from an old water bottle to dull their senses and numb the pain of hunger, depression, and isolation. This is the reality for over 100 million children in our global community, and data about these children who are living on the street is virtually nonexistent.
To solve the problem, we must first understand the problem. The lifestyle and experience of these children and adolescents, which we seek to understand through evidence-based methods and research, stands as a barrier to their ability to achieve healthy, productive opportunities in society. We will begin by identifying a cohort of these children and youth who have expressed interest in leaving the streets and leaving substance abuse. Once identified, they will be transported to Sodzo International's Rescue, Restoration, and Reintegration Farm in Meru County, Kenya: Watoto wa Ahadi (Swahili for Children of Promise).
The children and youth targeted by Sodzo International carry with them a unique set of obstacles to their healing and restoration. The difficulties of malnutrition, glue-inhalent addiction, a complete lack of structure, and the effects of PTSD due to the emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual violence require a specialized set of skills from multiple disciplines.
Drawing from a global network of resources and expertise, Sodzo International seeks to provide transformative processes addessing physical, educational, psychosocial, vocational, spiritual, communal, and nutritional poverty facing these children and youth. Our partners in Kenya range from Maua Methodist Hospital to Zoe to Action for Children in Conflict to Amiran among others. These partnerships not only offer Sodzo decades of expertise, but together we create a foundation for work that most importantly places we Westerners in the posture of learner and listener, as we strive to be collaborative and cooperative with our local friends and colleagues.
One of the greatest threats to the success of the Sodzo model is the social ostracization experienced by a child or youth who has lived on the street – even after successfully graduating from the program. Without a constellation of strong ecclesial, social, and familial systems, our graduates might be prone to return to the familiarity of the street.
Identifying families who would not only be willing to adopt a child, but see this act as an act of justice, compassion, and love will be fundamental to the success of the Sodzo model. The research done through Maua Methodist Hospital and University of Texas Medical Branch has shown a significant number of families in Meru County who said they were not only willing adopt a children who previous lived on the street, but they saw it as an expression of their faith and duty as called by God. Each child will have a tailor-made exit strategy where they will be connected to a potential family early in their journey with Sodzo. Throughout the time the child or youth is living at the Farm the family will regularly visit and participate in program activities. Forming bonds between the family members before the child graduates and enters their home will be a part of the transition process.