Understanding Children from their own perspective

AfCiC social workers have embarked on different activities and strategies to try to create rapport with children living on the street and to build trust between the children and AfCiC. The program has been encouraging street children to attend our Outreach Programme for Vulnerable Children centre (OPVC) daily from morning untill late afternoon, to keep them away from the streets whilst involving them in activities like life skills and football.

Every morning during weekdays the social workers conduct a street walk around Thika town, between 8a.m. to 9a.m aimed at; identifying street children for outreach program, creating awareness about the OPVC, identifying new street children keeping street records, creating awareness on any scheduled activities and prevention and rescue of new street children.

Street work has enabled social workers to interact freely with the street children at their hangout joints where they beg, eat, sleep and spend their day and they are informed about the OPVC and the support on offer to them. This has eventually led many to attend the OPVC every day. When they are there they spend the day with the social workers learning, washing their clothes, bathing and enjoying sports. They are also fed a nutritious meal and helped to detoxify any who are using drugs. The staff focus on creating unity amongst the boys, identifying their needs and nurturing their individual talents.

Through this outreach work it has been possible to identify young people who are willing to join into-work program and several street children have been assisted to acquire national identity cards.

When the street children check in at OPVC in the morning, the social workers monitor them to bath, wash their clothes and hang them nicely to dry, clean all the rooms and verandahs at OPVC and they are encouraged to put on clean clothes.

The children are involved in a variety of games such as darts, football, and rounder’s for detoxification purposes. This happens daily at Starehe grounds where boys are trained in football skills as one way of identifying talents and abilities.

In the afternoons, the older street boys train in football and life skills. This has been an achievement since the boys attend in big numbers; this is also an avenue to teach them about HIV/AIDS. You can read more about AfCiC are using football to help change lives on our website.

New Life, New Beginning

Action for Children in Conflict’s Interim Care Centre (ICC) was launched in June 2005. It is a 6 month residential rehabilitation programme for the most at-risk street children, for whom day care services have proven to be insufficient. 25 acutely vulnerable boys are recruited every year from the streets of Thika, Ruiru and Makongeni through referrals from a combination of our Outreach programmes, the District Children’s Office, Municipal Council and other community stakeholders. These are children who can not be worked with on an outreach basis and who are in desperate need of a refuge and robust package of support. The goal of the ICC rehabilitation and reintegration project is to reduce the number of children living on the streets in Thika District by addressing the root causes of conflict that force children into exploitative and abusive situations (abuse, neglect, poverty, violence) through tailored prevention and rehabilitation programmes and enabling and empowering these children and their families in the community so that they can support themselves emotionally, physically and economically.

In June, 25 new boys were introduced to the freshly painted Interim Care Centre where an artistic approach is taken to education and used as a tool for re-cultivating street children’s interest into normal life and formal education. Before moving into the ICC the children were taken on a camping trip to Rowallan Camp in Ngong. The aim of this special camp was to help the boys (many of whom had abused drugs on the streets) detoxify, unwind and get accustomed to the routine that they are expected to adhere to in the centre.

To encourage interest in the learning process and routine, the boys take the lessons as stipulated in their own timetable. They include percussion arts i.e instruments which produce sounds when struck, shakers, clappers and different types of traditional drum, music lessons, routine dancing, acrobatics, and beadwork. In addition, the boys are taken through cookery lessons and cover nutrition  food hygiene (including practical lessons in handling food and maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen).

The teachers carry out lessons on curriculum knowledge, including maths, reading and writing. We use a ‘Multiple Intelligence Approach’ which enhances creativity in learning.

Life skills lessons also take place daily where teachers help the boys to develop coping mechanisms when dealing with different situations encountered in life.

The boys also participate in different games and sports e.g. football, table tennis, rounder’s and rope skipping. Every weekend, the boys hold several friendly footballs matches in public schools within Thika Municipality.

Livelihoods Support – a new programme for vulnerable families

Livelihoods Support is a project under AfCiC and Save the Children’s Children Lead the Way initiative. It is aimed at economically empowering the parents/guardians of children infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS.

This support is in form of giving the families small grants to help start their own income generating activities to enable them to attain financial security.

Beneficiaries are trained on the following basic issues; how to start a new business, how to develop an already existing business, how to market a business, offering good customer care services and financial management.

After identifying a group of 8 member families, beneficiaries were trained on writing an effective business plans and a budgetswhich will help them to develop strong businesses, build self discipline and strong financial management skills. At the end of this training the participants got a chance to develop their own realistic business plans.

After the evaluation of the business plans, the project began by allocating dairy goats.

For those beneficiaries who cannot keep the dairy goats due to their location (for example people living in the Kiandutu slum) we are supporting them to establish alternative businesses.

We look forward to updating you on their progress and on the programme as it gains pace.

Football for Change

A report by Nacada shows the prevalence rate of alcoholism in men stands at 34% in Central Kenya. Grim statistics unveiled by the agency confirmed the worst fears of leaders in a region where the number of bars outnumber schools by 20%. This problem has a direct impact on the number of children who are exposed to vulnerability. Action for Children seeks to arrest this situation through sports and in particular football. The aim is to offer an alternative to alcohol and drugs. The tournaments are also a good way to introduce HIV education. Currently AfCiC is supporting 8 football teams and wishes to reach out to more children in Thika through the medium of football.

Guided by a baseline survey conducted in Kiandutu slum, a football club was established to help deal with the issues of crime and idleness. The club engages children and youths and children over the weekends and school holidays and most of all the children love it.

Another football team established and supported by AfCiC is Karibaribi Primary School’s girls team, which is also a useful way to help break cultural myths about girls and women in the community and to educate them about their rights. The club helps them to learn key lessons in teamwork, overcoming difficulties and understanding basic instructions while playing football. These vital skills are then applied in their day to day lives.

During the tournament’s half time, HIV messages and life skills messages are disseminated where the girls are given an opportunity to discuss issues affecting them and come up with their own solutions.

The project has gained community ownership as most of the people who work with AfCiC social workers are volunteers who offer their services either as coaches or help in keeping the equipments safe. Parents are also appreciative that their children are spending less and less time in the market’s video kiosks and other unsuitable places.

Action for Children in Conflict appreciates the support given by Kenya Clay Products, Thika United and the Manchester United Football Academy. Without them this project would not be such a strong success.

“Our Streets” Photography exhibition comes to Bradford

AfCiC’s partner, Street Action, is hosting a photography exhibition at Bradford Cathedral from 3rd – 26th October 2012.

Premièred last year in London, the exhibition offers a challenging insight into the lives of children living on the streets in three African countries. It explores the stories of street children through the eyes of three very different  photographers who spent time volunteering with the projects; AfCiC in Kenya, New Generation in Burundi and Umthombo in South Africa.

To launch the exhibition, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford will be hosting an opening night on the 3rd October at 6.30pm, with talks from Street Action representatives including Tom Hewitt MBE, founder of Umthombo. All are welcome.

To find out more about the exhibition please visit the website.

Prints of all photos will be available for sale, with proceeds going to support these projects in Africa. The photo above was taken at the AfCiC Interim Care Centre by Matt Oldfield.

A letter to Action for Children in Conflict

Dear AfCiC,

It is indeed from a deep heart of joy and appreciation that I am writing down this letter.  I reflect back on my life, before I had not joined AfCiC, and I can see the enormous wonderful work that AfCiC has done to me up to this level. Through your endless support, I have been able to pursue my studies at high school, and come out having satisfactorily fulfilled my goals.

You played an integral part in my life by ensuring I have the school fees and providing many essential items that were necessary for my high school life. Honestly speaking, AfCiC has actually done fantastic job in my academic life. If it was to give back, I do not know what I could offer worth repay back but I truly thank and appreciate you all for your work well done.

Now as I look forward to pursue ecotourism and hospitality management course in Egerton University, which is one of my greatest joys, I count it all on you and all my appreciation still goes back to you.  I am very grateful for all you have done to me from high school to university level.  You have volunteered yourselves in a selfless way in ensuring that I live to see my dreams come true in life.

The school, Egerton University has a conducive setting for learning which will now greatly facilitate my stay as well as I focus and specialize on the course of my choice, I will always live to appreciate you. Additionally, I will constantly be coming back to lend a hand in the organization where necessary. I thank you all and wish you well in all you endeavor. Thanks a lot.

Yours sincerely

Francis

Note:

AfCiC started working with Francis in 2008 when he was in Standard 7. He attended our outreach centre in Majengo. All of the staff and children are so proud of Francis and what he has achieved. Well done Francis and good luck for your bright future, from everyone at AfCiC!