The outreach and street work portion of the work we do is perhaps the most tangible connection we have, day to day, with boys who either come to the streets on a daily basis, yet live at home, or actually ‘live’ on the streets, spending their days trying to find food, and their nights waiting until morning.
Outreach and street work, for AfCiC, is a response mechanism, something that is a necessary part of what we do, yet is a short term measure when placed alongside our preventative programmes, which work with families, schools and guardians to prevent children from reaching the point where they feel that life on the street is their only option.The main aim of our outreach programme, however, is to quickly identify new children who come to the street, and to work with them to find an appropriate rehabilitative solution to their problem. There are a number of programmes in place which we run in Thika and its environs, most of which are centred on our Outeach Centre, or the OPVC (Outreach Programme for Vulnerable Children). The OPVC is based in one of the local ‘slum’ areas, and is a haven for street kids where they can come and;
- Wash their clothes
- Have two cooked meals
- Engage in literacy and numeracy classes
- Get involved with non-formal education classes like acrobatics, drama, acting and percussion
- Learn new skills which may form the early stages of an Income Generating Activity, such as soap-making or bead-work
- Take part in football tournaments with other local slum areas and outreach centres
- Get basic treatment for cuts and bruises, at which stage any bigger ailments can be referred to a doctor with AfCiC staff supervision
Each morning, AfCiC staff walk around the town talking to the street boys and inviting them down to the OPVC, with most boys now known well to AfCiC staff. Any boys between 8 and 14 years old will be considered for the next intake at the ICC, and AfCiC staff will also work with any parents or guardians of the streets boys to try and use that as a possible solution to taking to the street.
The staff also work with the boys to educate them on sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS, as well as family planing and child rights, and also provide the referance point for participation in the Economic Empowerment programmes we run, particularly the Into Work programme. The story behind each child taking to the streets is always unique, though there are constants that run through the core of each child, and leave long lasting wounds for each on one of them. If you would like to read more about some of the boys who come to the streets, just click here.