Street children rehabilitation project moves to Eldoret

 

By DENNIS ODUNGA
Posted Wednesday, May 5 2010 at 11:21

In Summary

  • Programme was first rolled out in Mombasa and targets all major towns where street children had become a menace.

A project to reduce the population of street children in urban towns has been launched in Eldoret Town, in Kenya’s Rift Valley province.

So far, the project, started last year, has enrolled 700 street children and has gobbled up Sh18 million.

The programme will benefit street children identified to join vocational training institutes, secondary and primary schools under sponsorship from United Nations Children Education Fund (Unicef), Barclays Bank and the Street Family Rehabilitation Trust Fund (SFRTF).

After one year in the identified vocational training institutions, the street children will be provided with a start up kit to enable them start their own businesses as they continue searching for jobs.

The Trust Fund’s vice chairperson Judy Kibaki said the programme was a joint effort that was first rolled out in Mombasa and targets all major towns where street children had become a menace.

“Today we are in Eldoret for the second launch before we move to Nairobi and other major towns. All this is intended to better their lives and enable them integrate back to society,” said Ms Kibaki during the launch of Eldoret Child Protection Centre back to school programme Wednesday.

Remain useful

She appealed to the business community and other employers to employ the street children once they graduate from the vocational centres so that the skills gained remain useful.

“Embrace these children. Just as other Kenyans, they are entitled to education, health and employment. Do not stigmatise them by referring to them as former street children,” she said.

She was accompanied by Unicef Education specialist Jane Mbagi-Mutua, SFRTF fund secretary Waruinge Muhindi and Barclays Bank’s communications manager Nuru Mugambi.

Others were Eldoret West District Commissioner Leonard Ngaluma and deputy town clerk Joseph Koech.

Ms Kibaki further said society should guard against all forms of violence that have seen the number of street children increase in various towns.

Tackle menace

She noted that abuse of children rights was to blame for increased numbers of the street children and appealed to various arms of the government to tackle the menace.

“Relevant government departments should address the root cause of street children. Cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse, child neglect and other forms of abuse of children rights should be reported to the relevant authorities for action,” Ms Kibaki said.

Mr Muhindi said there was need for the government to put in place protective measures to ensure more children do not end up on the streets.
“These children have untapped diverse talents as you have witnessed today. The corporate world and other development partners should come on board and support such a worthy cause so that the programme remains sustainable,” Mr Muhindi said.

He disclosed that there were 300,000 street children countrywide and the Trust Fund was keen to advise the government and other organisations on better ways to rehabilitate the children into responsible Kenyans.

Mr Ngaluma admitted that street children was a real challenge in Eldoret that was compounded by the post election violence, which saw the number of displaced children end up in the streets.

“We have about 800 street children in Eldoret as per the last Census report. Limited resources have stood on our way and we need more actors to change this worrying trend,” he said.

The administrator said some of the rehabilitated children had been re-united with their families but a lot still needed to be done to address the issue.

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