Life on the street.
An estimated 60,000 children and young people live on the streets in Nairobi and this number is growing. The majority of children living on the streets in Nairobi live in informal settlements such as Kibera, Kawangware and Eastlands. For many, their day to day survival can rely on scavenging, begging and picking through rubbish. They are subject to discrimination and marginalisation, making it more and more difficult for them to integrate back into society. Many have ended up on the street due to abandonment, domestic conflict or extreme poverty at home.
The lure of drugs is strong and substance abuse is common. Many street children abuse solvents to cope with the reality of their situation, feelings of extreme hopelessness and to suppress hunger. Many children and young people living on the streets have no official identification; as they are not officially recognised as citizens they lack protection. Many are subject to violence, harassment, manipulation and exploitation. Malnourishment is also common and poor sanitation, drugs and abuse mean they are at high risk of illness and HIV/Aids.
Through our Grace Empowerment Programme, International Needs is helping young people living on the streets of Nairobi to begin the path to a future off the street. The Grace Empowerment programme is currently supporting 66 children and young people. The programme supports each individual with two large hot meals each week as well as the three key areas of support below:
Supporting their rights
A legal identity, health care and legal support are often unattainable for street children on their own. Through the programme, we support street children to gain their own legal identity by assisting them in obtaining ID cards. An ID card is often the first step toward a life off the street. Most street children have no legal guardian, so Pastor Joshua stands in for them. Pastor Joshua finds and funds emergency health care when they are in need, and he supports them when they have been unfairly beaten or detained by police.
Rehabilitation takes time and dedication. It involves not only taking the child out of the street but also taking the tough impact of the street-life out of the child. Restoring a child’s dignity and recovering his or her childhood is key to enabling them to make choices that can transform their lives and create pathways to a hopeful future. The Grace Empowerment programme provides support including counselling and mentoring. Many young people also come to Pastor Joshua for pastoral support, mentoring and prayer.
Building a new future
When boys feel ready to come off the street, Pastor Joshua supports them with accommodation at half-way houses. Pastor Joshua connects them with vocational training, education and resources to enable them to get formal employment or start their own businesses. Some choose to go into education, some choose to work as artisans and craftsmen. There is no set route, and Pastor Joshua supports them to pursue their goals.
Pastor Joshua Kirani has been working with street children in Nairobi for over 8 years. He has extensive experience and has a well-developed rapport with the street boys. Pastor Joshua’s dream is to open a rehabilitation centre tailored to the needs of the children and young people he works with.
We need your support to continue to run the Grace Empowerment programme supporting children and young people on Nairobi’s streets. We also are looking to expand this work in the future to buy, rent or build a facility to be a half-way house and rehabilitation centre to help street boys start their journey off the street. To find out more about how you can support this project, please get in contact with our Programme Manager, Ali Mbugua at email@example.com
August 31st, 2018
Wachira moved to the streets as a teenager. He left home as his parents always argued and did not return as his mother then passed away. For a while, he lived with his grandmother but when she also passed away, Wachira ended up on the streets in the Westlands Slum in Nairobi. Wachira joined a street family group of around 20 boys and young men, eventually becoming their leader. The group live together in makeshift shelters on the street.