Updates from our Street Team: In-roads with Government, Salvation Army Sessions & Celebrating the Forming of a Consortium!
Our Street Team recently expanded its work and we now deliver group workshop sessions to over 80 street-connected children across three locations! In addition, we recently started a Consortium for the Welfare of Street-Connected Children in Kakamega. Read on for more!
INROADS WITH GOVERNMENT: REMAND & REHABILITATION
Throughout the whole of last year, our exceptional team had exciting government meetings with The Kenyan Children’s Services. These meetings resulted in a unique partnership, which has created the opportunity for our Social Care Team to deliver rehabilitation sessions to the children at two government holding facilities; the Remand Home* (for vulnerable children needing care and protection, or for children awaiting trial) and the Rehabilitation School (which is for convicted youth offenders; most children serve a three year sentence there).
Our team holds sessions in the Remand Home on Wednesday mornings and in the Rehabilitation School on Wednesday afternoons as part of the same government partnership. We provide therapy sessions ranging from anger management to healthy boundaries, from drug rehabilitation to gang culture awareness. Our goal is to support girls at risk or recovering from exploitation, young boys needing care and protection, and youth offenders.
So far we have had 13 sessions with children at the Remand Home and 11 at the Rehabilitation School! In addition, recently the CTP-K Street Team have partnered with the District Children’s Officer and Remand Home to assist in the reintegration of two former street connected children!
At one of the sessions, our team talked about identity and the positive and negative effects of labelling. Each one of our “Angel’s” group (self named!) wrote down labels and words that had been given to them in the past. As one of our staff team put it, “It was both heart wrenching and glorious to see our Social Worker lead them in a time of dramatically ripping up phrases such as ‘you don't belong in the family,’ ‘dirty,’ [and others] . . . Each girl was beaming from ear to ear when their turn came to throw their new confetti, along with the power of those negative words, into the bin!”
To complete this session, the girls wrote positive labels for each other and read aloud the encouraging words that described the positive way others saw them.
Each group needs love and support. We are excited to see the hope that lies ahead for these children and their families as our team continue to support the work of reintegration.
*The Government Remand Centres a general holding place for children who have nowhere else to go. While sometimes children are there through their own actions, they can also end up there through no fault of their own. There is often no accessible route for these children to be rehabilitated and reintegrated back into society, simply due to lack of resources and staff.
SALVATION ARMY SESSIONS*
Many of you know that our Street Team partners with the Salvation Army to provide group therapy sessions for street-connected children. We work to develop new lessons each week specifically designed to support the reunification process for street-connected children.
These children have run away from home for a variety of reasons (abuse, neglect, hunger), and often come to the group therapy sessions under the influence of glue, in order to suppress trauma and hunger. However they come, they are welcomed (though they cannot bring glue on site), as these times provide our Street Team staff with a unique opportunity to work with these children. Our hope is that by creating a safe space, we will develop relationships that build trust, enabling us to begin the journey with them of choosing to be reintegrated back into a loving family.
From a March session, our Street Team worked with the children to identify art that made them happy, and then they created happy art of their own. Three children drew pictures of home! As one of our staff team noted, “What an incredible insight for our Social Worker to catch hold of and use as a conversation starter. ‘I see your home is your happy place... Let's help you get there!’"
While we never know what will happen in a session, it is almost always good! We are so hopeful for their restoration to family because we have seen it before, and believe it will keep happening with the support of people like you. Indeed, what we do with the children connected to the streets is often a slow and arduous process, but so worth it when we see the word "HOME" on a case file!"
*Notably this work is being noticed by the local community! Just after one of our group therapy sessions in March, one of our Street Social Workers was interviewed by a local radio station. She did an amazing job communicating the struggles of street-connected children and the importance of family reunification. Having the opportunity as a charity to share the importance of our belief that children belong in families is a huge privilege!
CELEBRATING THE FORMATION OF A KAKAMEGA CONSORTIUM & INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR STREET CHILDREN
In addition to the above, our Street Team have also partnered with The Kenyan Children's Services in championing the first Consortium for the Welfare of Street-Connected Children in Kakamega! Members include youth offenders teams, police, the local Children's Department, Children's Remand Home and government representatives, and local NGO’s (such as the Salvation Army). It is an amazing opportunity to work together to see the welfare of these children focused on through a multi-agency approach.
The Consortium had its second meeting in April. Just a few days later, on April 12, we recognised the International Day for Street Children! We celebrated the global work being done to unite in the common cause of seeing equality for these children.
During this meeting two of our staff team who attended shared that they did a census, in which they discovered that Kakamega Town has an average of 145 to 200 street-connected children. In addition they found:
-91% of these children know someone that they can live with back in the community (they also confessed harbouring some kind of fears while they are on the streets)
-87% of the children said that they are willing to leave the streets
-The average age of children living on the streets of Kakamega is 12 years
Our Team also shared, “this kind of a consortium was reported to have worked well in Kisumu where the numbers were as high as 1500 – 2000 street children previously.”
There are more than a few things to celebrate from this important gathering of local officials:
✔️ The opportunity for members to share on a monthly radio slot information regarding children's rights
✔️ The opportunity to write a policy together as a consortium for the care of street-connected children, which will then be lobbied to the County Government
✔️ The tangible strengthening of connections and encouragement between organisations
✔️ The discussion of implementing a referral system to ensure street-connected children can access emergency healthcare (for free!)
✔️ Specified case handlers within the police force to assist organisations with cases involving street-connected children
✔️ Growing partnership with the Ministry of Education to remove some of the stigma barriers that street-connected children face when trying to re-engage with schools
Needless to say we are pretty excited.