1. Kids on the Street
Homelessness is a state in which tens of thousands of vulnerable children find themselves in Kenya.
Our social workers enumerate these children in our areas of operation and uncover what difficulties led to them entering the streets.
The longer children remain on the street the more “hardened” they become, often resulting in drug use and delinquency. Industrial glue is a commonly abused substance among street children in Maua, Kenya.
2. Direct Reintegration
Staff will first attempt to return children to their homes. This can involve meeting a wide variety of the child’s family’s immediate needs, including concerns over food security, illness, and domestic violence.
About 70% of children found are returned via direct integration. This is the preferred method, as it reduces the level of trauma children experience on the streets and conserves scare resources for those in greater need. Many of these families also join the family strengthening program.
3. The Rescue Center
Street children who cannot be directly reintegrated are enrolled in the Watoto wa Ahadi Rescue Center (ARC). There they are cared for while the social workers and community advocates work with the children’s families to improve conditions in the home and prepare the children for reintegration.
In addition to meeting physical needs, the ARC provides trauma care, education, and a family structure. The ARC also employs a chaplain to provide spiritual guidance and counseling to the children and their families.
4. Family Strengthening
To stop the migration of children to the streets we target the upstream causes of child homelessness and vulnerability using a novel, community-based approach.
The Kuja Pamoja kwa Jamii (“Come Together”) program recruits families with children affected by homelessness and their neighbors to meet in a weekly support group of 25-30 families.
In these groups they provide each other:
- weekly microlending opportunities
- emotional and spiritual support
- subject matter expertise on common issues (sanitation, HIV care, domestic violence mitigation, etc.)
- social capital and other benefits
— all as a means to uplift the community and correct the factors that pushed the children to the street.