Friday, June 15, 2007

Day of the African Child

Tomorrow, June 16th, we are supposed to celebrate the Day of the African Child, yet between 250,000 to 300,000 of Kenyan children are categorized as streetchildren and forced to find their basic needs on the streets.

There will be much to mourn and less to celebrate tomorrow as the number of children on Kenyan streets keeps increasing steadily and the street children continue to suffer. They lack basic needs, have health problems and are exposed to illicit drugs, communicable diseases and sexually transmitted diseases. Street children are often involved in road accidents and victimized by local authorities, the police and members of the public. Some of the children complain of mistreatment and abuse at government rehabilitation centers. In addition, children lack due process in the courts as they are often unrepresented in legal proceedings. Children are also vulnerable to exploitation. For example, young girls and boys are often used as prostitutes and young men are sometimes used to fulfill cultural practices, such as wife inheritance rituals.

There are many organizations involved in child welfare in Kenya but their lack of resources makes them vulnerable to control by donors. Some exist merely to take advantage of donor funding. The result is year after year we mourn the Day of the African Child instead of celebrating as we should.

The main causes of the problem of street children include poverty, problems at home or at school, street attractions and vulnerability. The government should take the lead in coordination, supervision and monitoring of individuals and organizations involved in child welfare. The government should also take the lead in enforcing the Children’s Act 2001. Organizations involved in child welfare should also engage in more proactive child advocacy, initiate screening programs for street children and training programs for the children and population at large. Such initiatives must involve child participation and work toward family reunification. The focus should be on the rural and peri-urban areas where most children originate.

The government, through the Area Advisory Council (AAC), should fund and coordinate child welfare programs by ensuring an appropriate distribution of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and other government funding to qualified child welfare programs. The government should also enact reporting requirements to ensure organizations involved in child welfare accurately report any non-government funding.

When we work to better protect our children, we inch closer toward the day when we will truly celebrate the Day of the African Child.

Monday, May 21, 2007


It is my pleasure to forward this summary of the report on the Kenya street children project conducted between September 2005 and December 2006.

The project involved needs assessment seminars held on 23rd, 24th and 25th November of 2005 in Kisumu, Kenya and on 29th November of 2005 in Kakamega, Kenya. The seminars brought together stakeholders in Nyanza and Western provinces of Kenya involved in child welfare with the goal of identifying intervention strategies on behalf of street children in Kisumu and Kakamega. The project also involved visits to children’s homes and rehabilitation institutions and individual interviews of social workers, police officers, government officials and randomly selected street children in Kisumu, Kakamega and Nairobi. The project has an on-going partnership with Baraka za Ibrahim Children’s Center in Nairobi, a school for rehabilitated street children.

This report is consistent with the project’s mission of getting children off the streets and protecting their human rights. I wish to implore upon you to appreciate that whereas we would like to see our children in schools and not on the streets, we cannot, however, afford to move in a rush and implement hurriedly-considered recommendations that do remove children off the streets, but nonetheless result in gross violations of their human rights. We must move with caution to ensure that the initiatives we implement will both remove the children off the streets and protect their human rights. The implementation must also be sustainable so as to stand the test of time.

The main causes of the problem of street children include poverty, problems at home or at school, street attractions and vulnerability. Seminar participants and interviewees alike recommended that the government should take the lead in coordination, supervision and monitoring of individuals and organizations involved in child welfare. The government should also take the lead in enforcing the Children’s Act 2001. Organizations involved in child welfare were also urged to engage in more proactive child advocacy, initiate screening programs for street children and training programs for the children and population at large. Such initiatives must involve child participation and work toward family reunification. The focus should be on the rural and peri-urban areas where most children originate.

A key recommendation was for the government through the Area Advisory Council (AAC) to fund and coordinate child welfare programs by ensuring an appropriate distribution of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and other government funding to qualified child welfare programs. The government should also enact reporting requirements to ensure organizations involved in child welfare accurately report any non-government funding.

The project has proposed the establishment of a child resource and referral center in Kisumu, Kenya, to promote the rights and interests of children in Kisumu and to work closely with the government toward implementing the recommendations made herein.

I wish to personally thank the University of Minnesota’s Upper Midwest International Human Rights Fellowship Program that sponsored this project, the International Leadership Institute (ILI) (host organization for the project), the Children’s Legal Action Network (CLAN), the Kenya Children’s Department, together with all the individuals and organizations that participated in this project. I am committed to working with you toward the common goal of getting children off the streets and protecting their human rights. This seems like a monumental task, but I am fully convinced that we can work together to better protect our children.

To obtain the full report please email me at

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Assessment Report on The Situation of Street Children in Kisumu


This is a brief presentation on the situation of street children in Kisumu, Kenya and some recommendations. This report was presented at the three-day needs-assessment seminar on streetchildren held in Kisumu, Kenya on 23rd, 24th and 25th November 2005.

The report was prepared by Susan A. Otieno of Pandpieri Catholic Children’s Center/Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programmes – Pandpieri in partnership with the International Leadership Institute (ILI), Children’s Legal Action Network (CLAN) and the Children’s Department.

The funds for this study were provided by the University of Minnesota’s Upper Midwest International Human Rights Fellowship Program.


Street children – A street child is any human being below the age of 18 years living in the streets. There are children who are born and brought up in the streets and those who left their homes (rural, urban or peri-urban) to live in the streets.

Categories of street children and youth

There are children In (live in the streets) and On (go and get back home for the night) the streets.

The current number of actual street children and youth in Kisumu is approximately 300 (three hundred) that is about 100 between the age of 16 - 25years and about 200 between the age of 6 – 15years. On the street children are approximately 3000 only found during day time. Some of these children even go to school in the morning.

Major activities

1 Begging

2 Carrying luggage

3 Cleaning business premises and vehicles.

4 Collecting waste papers, plastics, charcoal and metals for recycling.

5 Parking vehicles

6 Gambling

7 Loading and off-loading vehicles

8 Assisting the city council cleaners in sweeping and collecting garbage

9 Cleaning utensils in food kiosks

10 Petty thefts e.g. pick pocketing (mostly by the under 16 years)

11 Violent robbery (mostly by the over 16 years youth)

Areas of location for 16 years and above youth

During day time

1 Bus park

2 Fananaor Maendeleo park

3 Taifa Park

4 In front of Barklays Bank, Ukwala supermarket and Mega Plaza

5 Sumai Advocate’s building

6 Jua kali area

7 Kibuye market (mostly on Sundays)

During night time

[Mostly they are on the move during day time in different areas begging or in search for jobs.]

1 Octopus pub

2 Near Swan centre

3 Somken petrol station

4 Alimran plaza

5 Bus park

6 Mamba hotel

Currently about 40 youth have been rented for houses by other organizations e.g. Vosh Ebenezes.

Areas of location for under 16 years street children

8 Bus park

9 Fanana Park

10 Infront of Barclays Bank, Ukwala supermarket and Mega Plaza

11 At the lake-shore, Lwang’ni hotel (mostly during lunch time)

During night time

12 Bus park

13 Fanana Park

14 Akamba booking office

15 Octopus pub

16 Near Swan centre

17 Somken petrol station

18 Infront of Barklays Bank, Ukwala supermarket and Mega Plaza

19 Sumai Advocate’s building

20 Infront of Kimwa annex

Some of the factors that push and pull children to the streets

1. Problems within families

Parents separated: at times children are forced to live under very harsh conditions.

Parents staying together but with misunderstandings: causes instability to children.

Widowed man/ women leads to change of living conditions after the death of one parent

Stepparent: some step parents mistreat children forcing them to run away

Orphaned: some children are forced to find how to make their own ends meet due to loss of both parents.

Child born out of wedlock: not accepted by some families.

Placed away: at times we place our children to live with our relatives against their wish.

Very poor families: There are families where children must go out to fend for food and some end up in the streets.

2. Problem at school

School fees: This is mostly with secondary school cases (age 14 – 18)

Corporal Punishment: Not so common currently but is still a problem in some schools

Some factors that pull and maintain children in the streets

1. Handouts (free food, clothing, money, etc)

2. Availability of drugs and easy access to them

3. To some extent the services provided by organizations handling children (some children get attracted)

4. Peer influence

Drugs commonly used by street children

1. Leather glue

2. Petrol and diesel

3. Ciggarets

4. Bhang

5. Kuber (tobacco)

Problems faced by street children in Kisumu

1. Road accidents

2. Harassments by security officers

3. Incriminalization

4. Communicable diseases including, Malaria and dental problems.

5. Fire accidents and others caused by sharp objects.

6. Highly exposed to HIV Aids due to sexual abuses.

7. Used to fulfill cultural practices eg wife inheritance.

Reasons for leaving home, according to



Beating at home:









Peer influence:









Feeling unheard:









Feeling rejected:



Deviant child:



Beating in school:



School fees:






What was done to solve the problem?


Talking “with” child:

Talking “at” child:

Placing with others:

[The factors, drugs and problems mentioned are based on a research done during home placement of 57 street children in various families in Western Kenya.]

Problems and Recommendations

1) Handouts

The Current Situation

The giving out of foodstuffs and money is realized to be attracting more children to the streets, but some individuals apparently find it difficult to refuse a hungry child or to tell him or her to go to an institution instead. Since there are genuine concerns about how some of these institutions are run or what they in fact accomplish, it may not be surprising that street-children prefer the streets where they think they have certain advantages, such as supposed freedom and ready cash.


Members of the public should be discouraged from giving money, food, and other handouts to street children. Instead, organizations in this field should explore the most effective way of providing these givers with alternatives, while at the same time exploiting the desire to give, so that the total amount available for street children and those at risk of going to the streets is increased.

The fact that members of the public respond to the presence of children on the streets in a variety of ways, some of which actually do more harm than good, shows that there may be a source of local funding here that is not being adequately tapped. To that extent, street-children organizations need to explore this possibility for increased local funding, and not rely almost exclusively on foreign funds.

2) Donor Influence

The Current Situation

The current situation seems to be that donors often come up with new ideas they want implementing organizations to put into practice at very short notice. Perhaps there has been a change in the donor country itself that puts the funding agency under pressure to urge implementing organizations to reflect a similar change. Since many implementing organizations do not have a clear vision or objectives on which their choice of strategies and specific interventions can be shown to rest, this leaves the way open for the donors to insist on compliance.

Need for collaboration and a referral system

Currently there are about 8 out 40 organizations working with children in different ways work directly with street children in Kisumu.









Networks that exist to address street children’s issues

1. AAC

2. GCN





Since it is unlikely that any one organization can give street-children all that they require, this underlines the need for agency-specialization, combined with a system of willing collaboration and referrals between one organization and another.


1 An organization should examine itself to know what its particular strengths are. This will enable agencies to learn from each other, make use of comparative advantages to streamline their operations, and also share information and other resources where possible.

2 It is equally important, in this regard, that organizations have specific policies regarding how they interact with other organizations and programmes that are also involved in the work.

3 Good working relationships between private-sector and public-sector organizations is very essential.

4 Donors should also co-ordinate their own activities and support organizations that work well together.

3) Mistrust and lack of collaboration

The Current Situation

The biggest problem is the lack of trust and the unwillingness to work together so that they can learn from each other. Many are trying to do everything, rather than settling on what each can do best, leaving the rest to others, and even helping them where possible. Where in addition there is absence of clear vision and objectives, a very bad situation results where one child and his or her family is being supported by 3 or more organizations and non of them is aware of the scenario and many others do not get the help they need making conditions in society worse and worse. (evident by the current picture in Kisumu town)

The current situation is that most organizations offering services to street-children or children and youth at risk do not have policies, or if they have them, they only developed them when they absolutely had to. This is presumably because there is considerable fear instilled among organizations by the very word `policy’ itself.

Policy simply means thinking about problems in advance, and how the organization will want to handle them rather than thinking under pressure to decide or act quickly. So there is no need to be terrified about ‘policy’.


1 Collaboration also makes it possible for the government to delegate authority for the handling of specific tasks (such as the registration of new programmes) to one or more of the organizations to undertake on its behalf. Without collaboration, such delegation is impossible, because agencies will still be working on the basis of divided minds and at cross purposes with each other. Collaboration, on the other hand, leads to specialization, which eliminates competition and makes partial delegation of governmental authority possible.

2 Organizations that work with street children or children and youth at risk must learn to think through the changes donors may ask them to make, and not to agree to them unless and until they are convinced that the changes are desirable. Donor interests and the changes they recommend should perhaps be incorporated into an organization’s programme on a gradual basis, with the organization being given time to think about the change and reflect on its likely consequences and implications, then giving donors a feedback after an agreed-upon period of time.

3 The government’s presence, active involvement, and indeed leadership in the whole area of street-children work is presently seen and felt. This is to say that the Government has improved greatly and should be encouraged to do even much better.

4 Communities need to be educated as to why this common interest and strong stand are important. Some stakeholders in the present effort have suggested that education of communities is not being encouraged currently because the government fears this possibility. But children’s issues need to be de-politicised. It is in the interests of everyone involved in this field to work toward demonstrating that an educated community that is empowered to take care of its own is an asset to the government rather than a threat, because it actually helps the government to shoulder its responsibilities.

Kenya Street Children’s Project Report (May 2006)


The project has been progressing albeit a little slower than in 2005. We begun the year 2006 working closely with Baraka za Ibrahim Children’s Center in providing them with an English teacher for the first term to teach in the High School section beginning January to April 2006. The project also provided cleaning materials for the bathrooms, kitchens and classrooms and a few textbooks for use in the classes. The project continues to work closely with Baraka za Ibrahim Children’s Center.


The project also held a three-day needs-assessment seminar in Kisumu, Kenya on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of November 2005. The seminar brought together different organizations and individuals involved in child protection in Kisumu, known as stakeholders, to develop initiatives for removing children off the streets of Kisumu and to protect their human rights.

At the beginning of the seminar, one of the stakeholders, Pandpieri Catholic Children’s Center/Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programmes – Pandpieri, through its representative Susan A. Otieno, made a presentation on the situation of street children in Kisumu, Kenya. The paper she presented is available for your perusal.

The project also held a one-day needs-assessment seminar in Kakamega, Kenya on the 29th of November 2005, also bringing together stakeholders involved in child protection in Kakamega, to develop initiatives for removing children off the streets of Kakamega and to protect their human rights.

Both the Kisumu and Kakamega seminars were held in partnership with the International Leadership Institute (ILI), Children’s Legal Action Network (CLAN) and the Children’s Department.


The project’s coordinator will continue to work with Baraka za Ibrahim Children’s Center and the stakeholders identified to realize the common goal of getting children off the streets and protecting their human rights.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Oct '05 Project Report

On October 12, 2005, I visited a one-stop youth resource center near the Nairobi town center in preparation for starting a children’s resource center. The center is run by the Nairobi City Council and offers the following services to youth: counseling; library services; entertainment (games, movies, television); HIV-testing; family-planning/pregnancy testing; skills training; peer education; online & onsite forum discussions; cybercafe for online research & correspondence; and referral services.

On October 13 & 19, 2005, visited Njia Yetu Rehabilitation Center, a streetchildren’s rehabilitation center in Ngara, Nairobi. There are about 11 boys (12yrs-26yrs) living at the rehab facility in Ngara and another 5 boys that the Rehab center is mentoring in prisons and police cells. The rehab center also runs a training facility at Kariorkor Social Hall for the children where they train in Tae kwondo, Karate, acrobatics and other sports activities. Njia Yetu is also trying to develop a program for strengthening family units. A social worker at Njia Yetu stated that there is a serious health problem among street children because some suffer from various diseases, e.g. STDs and various other sicknesses that are rarely diagnosed and treated. The social worker said the main method used at Njia Yetu is peer education with other youths going out to entice their fellow street children to seek rehabilitation. The outreach by former streetchildren is very effective because word spreads very fast among the street children.
The street children at Njia Yetu made the following suggestions for helping streetchildren get off the streets:
(1) skills/vocational training,
(2) taking children to school
(3) helping children engage in sports, acrobatics, and other activities that are more attractive than glue-sniffing and
(4) providing them with a place for showering, eating, exercise, etc., away from the town center.
Njia Yetu social workers identified the following weaknesses in existing rehabilitation programs in Kenya:
(1) lack of resources,
(2) lack of follow-up and supervision,
(3) lack of trained personnel,
(4) lack of a data bank for information management and
(5) lack of proper screening and placement.

On October 14, 2005, visited Thomas Barnado House, a rehabilitation home for street children that also runs a primary school, Jonathan Gloag Academy. Thomas Barnado House keeps a maximum of about 120 children at the rehabilitation home and about 100 at the primary school. The streetchildren join the home at a tender age of between 0-3 yrs. Children are brought to the center by the police, local council, and well wishers. The center has a screening process involves tracing the child’s family and identifying the child’s areas of need. The home is divided into 8 houses with approx. 11-12 children each. Each house has a mother as the overall head. There are also 7 aunties and two social workers. The home also engages in activities to raise income and work toward self-sustenance, such as: selling Christmas cards designed by the children, farming activities e.g. keeping dairy cows, poultry, flour-milling business where the maize flour is sold to Uchumi, carrying out wedding ceremonies and operating a primary school which collects fees from attendees outside the home. The home also runs a family-reunification program.

On October 16, 2005, interviewed some streetchildren randomly selected from the streets. One, and 18-year-old had just been released from Joseph Kangethe the day before. He was released because the City Council decided to release all boys over 17 yrs old and left the under 17yr-olds so they could take them to school. He said at one point at Joseph Kangethe there were over 250 children when the “jeshi” came to rescue them around July of 2005. The Jeshi refers to a band of streetchildren who stormed Joseph Kangethe to free their colleagues. He also showed me ugly scars just above his neck next to his right jaw where he was beaten/whipped by City Council askaris at Joseph Kangethe. He says he was beaten at one point when he went to visit the restroom without asking for permission. I then went to tour the Global Cinema roundabout, where most street families live. Global cinema is a big roundabout with open space almost as if in a valley. Nairobi river runs through it and there are several dwellings in the marsh around the river. The dwellings are temporary structures much like the ones found in the middle of Kibera slums. The river itself is thick with pollution. There are shirts drying on the grass next to the river and families taking baths in the river. The streetfamilies are mostly women and their little children living in the structures around the rivers. The area is also some kind of dumping ground because there are several trash sites doting the roundabout.

On October 21, 2005, visited Mathare Youth Sports Association (“MYSA”) headquarters (“HQ”). MYSA is non-political and non-religious so it can appeal to youth from all sectors of society. Its major focus is sports, i.e. soccer. Talked to a MYSA representative in charge of HIV/AIDS program. MYSA HQ is located almost 30 kilometres from the City Center in Komarock, Nairobi. The HQ itself has a gymn, an enclosed garage where MYSA’s vehicles are kept, a secretariat with almost 20 cubicles each handling different aspects of the organization, a glass shelf with several trophies and a building housing the Shoot-Back project, which is a media-wing for the organization. MYSA itself is focused on sports, i.e. soccer. It is organized into leagues in 16 areas in Nairobi alone. In each area, any youth can come up with a team and register it with MYSA. This year alone, there were 1,200 registered teams. The teams also engage in environmental cleanups.MYSA’s representative suggests the following for a streetchildren’s resource center:
(1) The streetchildren should “own” the center
(2) The center should have entertainment/recreation e.g. videogames, sports activities, etc.
(3) There should be a follow-up mechanism that ensures streetchildren who go through the center are monitored and attracted back.
(4) Whatever program the center sets up should be consistent and continuing all year round.
(5) There should also be exchange programs with other centers or entities so that the streetchildren are slowly but surely brought into regular life.
(6) There should be recognition of effort/participation so streetchildren feel proud to be a part of the initiative e.g. through scholarships, medals, certificates, awards.

Between 10/23/05 and 10/27/05, I visited Kakamega and Kisumu, Kenya.

In Kakamega, I visited a rescue center set up by the International Faith Ministry in the town of Kakamega, just a few kilometers from the City Center. The church began the rescue center after some streetboys attending its crusade became born again and had nowhere to go. The church then decided to house them in a building that was originally rented by a church member. The building looks like a 2 bedroom house with an external kitchen and a small fenced compound. Currently, there are over 30 former streetchildren in the compound ranging in age from 8-15 yrs. The church complains that the center has no resources. I also walked around Kakamega town from 6-8 p.m. to observe streetchildren and where they live on the streets. We observed about 50-100 streetchildren. The streetboys in Kakamega stay in public places and sleep on verandas near the main streets. At one point there was a group of 10 streetboys warming themselves by a fire. They said the main things they need are food and shelter and that they do not like the children’s homes because they suffer more in those places than on the streets. They would also like to go to school or to vocational training institutions.

In Kisumu, I first, went round the city observing the streetchildren. One streetboy, a 14-year-old, said he roams around Indian residential areas like most streetboys and sleeps on the verandas after paying the security guards/watchmen a small amount of money, even ksh.5/-. When I asked him why he was not living with his aunts and uncles, he began to weep and said his relatives do not want them. He went to school upto class 5 where he used to be in the top 15 of his class of approximately 60 children. After his mother died he had to drop out because of lack of fees and has been living on the streets for almost two years now.
I also met the Nyanza provincial children’s officer who is very enthusiastic about organizing a seminar on streetchildren in Kisumu. He says if the stakeholders in Kenya act in concert, they can arrest the situation just like happened in Uganda where the number of children living on the streets has been drastically reduced over the years. He says children’s homes or centers have to be better than the streets, but should not be worse than the streets.I also visited Pandpieri Catholic Children’s Center/Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programmes – Pandpieri a rehabilitation center for streetchildren. Pandpieri is a faith-based rehabilitation program that engages in skills-training for streetchildren. The children are first taken to a reception center for a couple of months then screened and placed in an appropriate skills-training program.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Street Children’s Project Report (October 10, 2005)

I flew into Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa, on September 13, 2005 to begin the street children’s project.

On September 16, 2005 I met with representatives of the Children’s Legal Action Network (CLAN) to plan the project. CLAN’s representatives were very excited about the project and promised to give me all the support I needed, including use of CLAN’s resources.

Together with CLAN representatives, I visited Baraka za Ibrahim, one of the more than 200 schools that have sprung up in Nairobi slums with the support of various NGOs and well-wishers.

Baraka za Ibrahim is a school in the middle of Kibera slums, the largest slum in Africa with over 1.2 million inhabitants. Baraka za Ibrahim has about 415 students from standard one to form two (first grade to tenth grade.) The students are from all over the country, representing all provinces. It has about 20 teachers with about eight teaching forms one and two. The school is currently constructing classrooms for forms three and four (eleventh to twelfth grade). Access to the school is very difficult and it is easier to walk than to drive because there is only one dirt road leading to the school’s gate with room for only one four-wheel drive vehicle. There are many vendors on the street with children also playing on the streets and even dogs sleeping comfortably on the streets because vehicles rarely go that deep into the slums. When we drove by, children tried to jump on the back of the vehicle and some followed it on foot.
The school itself has a great and immediately-visible need for more resources: electricity, more space for the children to play, more buildings to be used as classrooms, libraries, staff room, dining hall, etc. The students have a need for uniforms as they currently have different colors of uniforms as most have been donated by different groups and individuals. For some children, the only meal they eat is that made in the school. Some are HIV-positive, have HIV-positive parents or are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The poverty in the school and among the teachers and students is apparent to any visitor as most of the children walk barefoot or with torn shoes and clothing. In spite of all the poverty and difficulty they face, the children are very welcoming and eager to learn. I volunteered to teach Maths and Physics once a week and during my classes, the children are very responsive to questions, ask their own questions and are even willing to go to the blackboard and solve problems in front of their colleagues. Most of the children were picked straight from the street and had to be rehabilitated over a lengthy period of time with visits to and from the streets until after a period lasting about 1-2 years they decided to finally leave the streets and pursue education.

On September 21 and 28, 2005 I visited the Nairobi Children’s Court and obtained permission from the presiding judge to observe some of their sessions. On the 28th there was a feeding program by the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA). The children – numbering almost 40 were paraded in the court’s courtyard and fed by MYSA. The feeding program was also a family reunification program in which the media was invited to take pictures of the paraded children so they could be photographed and their pictures publicized. Parents and guardians would later reclaim their children. After the photographing and feeding, the children were taken to the court and arraigned before the judge. They were all ordered into state custody without input from any parent or guardian other than the children’s officer. The judge also heard a case in which two children were charged with robbing a shop. The children appeared pro se and had to cross-examine the witnesses themselves. The Court had no reporting system and the Judge had to handwrite her notes.

On September 21 and 28, 2005 I also spoke with police officers in the children’s court’s courtyard and visited police headquarters to obtain police guidelines or training procedures on handling children. The police denied mistreating children but agreed they had no training to handle children beyond commonsense and that the determination of whether one was a child was based on appearances. The police, however, agreed that city council askaris (security guards) have insufficient or no training to handle children or any “common man” as the askaris even mistreat the disabled. I was unable to obtain any police guidelines or training procedures on handling children as the police officer in charge of such records kept telling me to come back the following day as she had no time to attend to me.

On September 25, 2005 I, together with four reporters, went round Nairobi interviewing street children at random. We divided the city into four quadrants and traveled around each quadrant in teams of two or individually. We interviewed a total of approximately 40 street children – mostly male with only about 8 girls – aged between 10 and 18. They were mostly wearing tattered and dirty clothing, sniffing glue and barefoot. Most looked like they had not showered for very long and were carrying sacks in which they collected metals for sale at ksh. 6 a piece. The street children were mostly eager to talk about their situation and friendly, especially when offered some money. They mostly left home because of poverty. Most of the young ones want to go back to school while the older ones want to learn a vocation e.g. to be mechanics or drivers. Some have their entire families – brothers and sisters – on the streets who also beg for money. They said the glue helps them cope with their situation. There were others who had homes but come to the city in the morning to beg and take money home in the evening. They were afraid of the City Council Askaris (security guards) because the security guards beat them and take them to a rehabilitation facility known as Joseph Kangethe where they are given no food and made to sleep on the floor. They said they could be detained in Joseph Kangethe for long, a month to a year, and only leave when rescued by fellow street children or let go after bribing the security guards.

On October 3, 2005, I visited Joseph Kangethe Rehabilitation facility. There were about 8 security guards guarding the door to a hall in a stadium. The stadium was the rehabilitation facility and members of the public were not allowed in unless they had written permission from the City Council. The guards denied beating any children but also said I could not even walk in to take a look at the facility. The door was always closed fully or partially. Occasionally a child emerged and asked a security guard armed with a club for permission to visit the restroom. The security guards looked mean and smoked cigarettes with some even sending the scared children for cigarettes. I went to the City Council offices to ask for permission to visit the facility but was told to get a letter requesting such permission from CLAN. I got the letter and took it to the City Council who said they would “get back to me.”

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Starting the Project (Sept - Oct '05)

"According to 2004 estimates, there were between
250,000 and 300,000 street children in Kenya with more
than 60,000 of the children living in Nairobi alone" 
This campaign seeks to foster discussion and begin
implementation of initiatives aimed at protecting the
human rights of street children within the Kenyan
juvenile justice system.
Partner/Affiliate organizations: 
The International Leadership Institute 
Kids Home International
Targeted Interviews
The campaign will conduct interviews in Nakuru, Nyeri,
Garissa, Eldoret and Kakamega involving professionals,
judicial officials, religious leaders, community
leaders and other individuals working in childd
protection initiatives to identify and discuss key
obstacles to the implementation of international human
rights standards for street children in the Kenyan
juvenile justice system.
The campaign will also organize seminars on street
children in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
Resource Center
The campaign plans to start a resource center to cater
for street children in Nairobi.