Giving dignity to street children

A street rehabilitation programme in Dagoretti and the neighbouring areas is engaging street children through medical outreaches, sports and focus group discussions on issues affecting the children.

The Dagoretti Child in Need Centre by Amref Health Africa involves visiting street children in the markets, shopping malls and shopping centres at least 3 times a week. “Visits are conducted at different times of the day such as early morning or mid-morning and late evening. They create rapport and develop a helping relationship through the use of sports such as football and volley ball, conduct focus group discussions on issues affecting the children, meet with business people and provide first aid,” explains the Amref Project Officer Partricia Kwamboka.

Through the street visits and the activities, children in street situations are monitored, new comers identified and emerging trends such a new drugs tracked.

The centre runs two sites where children in street situations and other categories of vulnerable children can come for child protection services. “There is a drop-in centre located within the Waithaka Divisional headquarters where the children come to play, have a bath and breakfast as they talk to the social workers who provide counselling services. The main centre is a modern facility located at the heart of Dagoretti North Sub-County in Mutuini. This is where the rehabilitation process takes place through a schedule of activities that engage the children from 7.00a.m to 4.30p.m,” explains Kwamboka.

Patricia Kwamboka with some of the girls at the centre
Patricia Kwamboka with some of the girls at the centre

The rehabilitation process begins with a preliminary interview that provides basic information on the child and guides the development of a treatment plan for the same. This is followed by physical examination of the child, family tracing, home visits and development of the treatment plans. The main activities include provision of nutritional support, personal hygiene, individual and group counselling, psycho-motor activities, reading and writing skills and alternative skills. The main strategies employed include psycho motor support, psycho social support, arts, video photography, and experience-based learning.

Currently, there are 131 children who attend sessions at the centre. Besides, the organisation is supporting 300 children in formal education: 45 in secondary school and 30 in vocational skills training and 295 in public primary schools within Dagoretti. The Centre is currently funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Fondazione Cariplo through Amref Health Africa in Italy.  Unicef Kenya has also funded the Centre in the past and is currently working on a new partnership agreement to strengthen child protection within the informal settlements of Nairobi.

Kwamboka says that most children on the streets are as a result of poverty in their homes, violence at home or dysfunctional families. “Others admit being truant and dropping out of school and spending time on the street,” she adds.

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