Kenya is a major business and communications hub in East Africa. It has a growing economy and thriving finance and tourism industries. Many people have migrated to the cities in search of new opportunities. Despite this, Kenya still has huge inequalities and 46% of the population living below the poverty line. Only 66% of births are registered, 12% of children have no access to a toilet and 14% of primary age children do not go to school (source, UNICEF State of the World’s Children report).
Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city. In the 2009 census the population was around 939,000, but the expectation is that the number will have far exceeded one million when the 2019 census takes place. Of those, around 150,000 people live in urban slum areas and on the streets.
Life is especially risky for children and young people living on the streets. Many have lost their parents or have escaped from abusive homes. Many have travelled from other parts of the country. They work in hazardous conditions on the huge rubbish dumps like Kibarani, are sexually exploited or get by with petty crime.Many become addicted to glue, using it to take away hunger pangs. They are unable to afford the costs of school fees, uniforms and materials. For many the prospect of getting an education to build a better future is a seemingly impossible dream.
Adding to the already dangerous conditions is the trauma of abuse from the authorities and those who have a duty to protect them. Police and the authorities regularly conduct illegal clean-up operations in order to maintain Mombasa’s image as a cosmopolitan tourist city. Children are imprisoned with no just reason, often in a mixed gender and missed age centres, and with no consideration for their protection.
This one-year project aims to support 700 vulnerable children on the streets of Mombasa to improve their life chances and help them return to school.
Glad’s House works in Mombasa with children and young people up to 30 years old, who are deemed ‘too challenging’ by the rest of society. These include those living and working on the streets and on rubbish dumps and those in conflict with the law. Their goal is to ensure that children and young people will not be criminalised for being on the streets and that there will no longer be unlawful round-ups.
Glad’s House was founded in 2006 by a group of Kenyan social workers and a group of people from the UK in response to the lack of services for these children. Glad’s House was born out of a weekly football game each Thursday and 12 years on, this is still how many of children who need support are identified. They support children and young people to rebuild their trust in adults, return to school or vocational skills training and provide legal support where necessary. They also campaign for the rights of children and young people and influence decision-makers and authorities to respect and protect those rights. With a group of 54 children they created the Mombasa Resolution. This sets out eight key demands that children and young people have of local and national government to ensure they have access to their rights.
This new one-year project will provide non-formal education to children and young people currently living on the street and help them return to school. It will also support children at risk of dropping out of school and ending up on the street. Young people who are unable to access formal education because of their age will be supported with basic literacy and numeracy training.
We will deliver daily lessons at the Glad House community education centre with sessions timed to fit around children’s work shifts. These will be in line with the Kenya curriculum for out-of-school children in order to prepare them to return to formal education. This centre will also run an after-school club for children who are in school but struggling, to support them to keep up their studies. There will be access to a library and extra-curricular activities such as debating clubs.
Many of the children have deep-seated mistrust of adults and people in authority so social workers will support them with a range of therapies and help rebuild their trust and self-esteem.Social workers will also work with families at the point of crisis, supporting them to keep their child in school.
Ben’s parents died in a car crash when he was just eight years old. He was sent to live with his Aunt who mistreated him.With nowhere else to turn, he dropped out of school and ended up on the streets of Mombasa. The Glad’s House outreach team identified him and offered their help. Thanks to their support, Ben began to trust adults again and shared his desire to return to school.
Ben took part in our education programme and was supported through daily classes and one-to-one sessions. Social workers also worked with Ben on addressing the traumas he had experienced and rebuilding his self-esteem.
“I come to Glad’s House because I learn from teachers and friends. Glad’s House is my new family. I know when I am here I will get help to go to school and go far.”
Ben sat his final primary school exams in December 2017 and has just started secondary school, taking him one step closer to his ambition of becoming an engineer.Read more
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