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June 17, 2005
Ahead pays school fees, uniforms and educational materials for potential
children living and working on the streets. Corporate, national and International
NGOs have been providing Streets Ahead with funds for the children to
go and attend school. Our main objectives as Streets Ahead is to see the
children we support complete their tertiary education.
In April 2005 Streets
Ahead sent two children to boarding school at Mutendi High School in Masvingo
and Richmond College in Nyazura. The two boys successfully qualified our
assessments tests where we ask questions to see if a child is ready for
a long-term commitment such as attending school. One of the boys passed
his grade seven examinations while he was living on the streets. Even
though he lived on the streets he had a strong desire to sit for grade
The education department
sent six additional children to Mazowe Bridge for primary and secondary
education. 32 children with the majority in the foster home supported
by Streets Ahead are all in schools in their local community. We try to
encourage children to go to school within their communities because it
is more sustainable in the long term. Our priority is the reunification
of children with their families. It is also easy for children from a home
environment to attend school. Some of the children have told us that the
streets are not a conducive environment to promote educational development.
Guidance and supervision of homework on the streets is not readily available.
In November 2004 UNICEF,
Streets Ahead and a representative from the department of Social Welfare
attended a reunification where four children were reunited with their
families. After three months Streets Ahead made a follow up visit to see
whether the children were copping with school and how their communities
accepted them. Our findings indicated that four of the children were still
attending school at community level. Their relatives are happy to live
with the children if someone is willing to pay their school fees. Streets
Ahead will continue supporting school fees for the children until their
families can take over the responsibility.
you" was the theme of Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA) 2005
and once again Streets Ahead took part in this major Arts Festival event
in Zimbabwe. HIFA took place from the 26th of April to the 1st of May.
The streets youth were employed as parking personnel' during the 6 days
of the festival.
As a consultant for
HIFA, Streets Ahead was mainly in charge of coordinating security, in
terms of looking after people's vehicles and making sure that they are
not harassed. Streets Ahead has embarked on a strategy to try and change
the way the society perceives street children. Street children have and
are a very marginalized group. Employing streets youths during a HIFA
is a way of showing the public that street children are just normal as
any other person and can be reintegrated into the society.
During HIFA, there
were no cases of vandalism, radios stolen, no people pushed to the pavement
and their cell phones or handbags stolen except one car break in.
We also took the opportunity
of marketing one of the works by the children, which is a book on street
life. This book, "Nhoroondo yemumugwagwa" is a product of street children
coordinated and edited by Brendan Buzzard.
One of the major
highlights of the Streets Ahead calendar was the visit by Femi Kuti to
the Streets Ahead Drop in Centre on the 28th of April 2005.
Femi Kuti was the main attraction of HIFA 2005 and is also a goodwill
ambassador of UNICEF. It was an honor for us to have him at our place
and he signed on one of our walls a message of hope. On this day, Femi
watched drama performance by the children, had an interview with some
of the children, played marimba with them before touring the centre. The
UNICEF Country Representative and the British Ambassador accompanied Femi
to Streets Ahead Drop In Center.
through the peer programme
During the month of April children attended a two-day workshop to brainstorm
and share ideas with staff on what street peers are, what they do and
how the whole peer programme should function. The following is what was imparted into
them by the Head of Outreach Department at Streets Ahead:
- Street Peers are
leaders who provide support to children on the streets.
- They help each
other when they are unwell
- They protect each other
while they are on the streets
- They report some
of the problems street children face while they are on the streets.
- Street peers represent
other children at meetings and workshops
- Street peers help identify
invisible and the most vulnerable children
- Street peers receive
an incentive for their work
Children on the streets are more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS due to a number
of factors including the need for money to buy food whereby girls are
sometimes exploited, poor supervision and guidance. CESVI, the Centre
for positive living and PSI organized a six-day workshop on HIV/AIDS.
Approximately 40 children attended the workshop. The children highlighted
the areas that they wanted to know about HIV and AIDS. The children were
provided with information on the following:
- pre and post counseling,
- positive living,
- nutrition and Voluntary
Counseling and Testing among others.
During the workshop, some
of the children volunteered to go for voluntary counseling and testing at
the New Start Center as a way of acknowledging that HIV and
AIDS affects everyone.
day marked at Chitungwiza Town Center 30 April 2005
team comprising of 6 street boys was invited to participate during the
HIV/AIDS Awareness campaign in Chitungwiza. They were the curtain raisers
of the event and some established drama groups were also on the programme.
The event involved information on nutritional guide and Positive living.
Photographs on HIV and AIDS were exhibited. The event was an
opportunity for the communities to begin reflecting on the problems facing
children on the streets. It was also an opportunity for the children
to show the communities that they have the capacity to behave like children
of their age group if a chance was presented to them.
round ups in Harare
The round ups started on Saturday 21 May and are still continuing. A number
of our children were caught up in the round ups. We have recorded
a 60% reduction in the number of children who report to the Drop
In Center on a regular basis. We usually have 35 -100 cases
per day. We assumed that at least 60 street children were caught up in
the round ups. According to our records 5-10% of them are girls.
Saturday 21 May about 30 boys had gone out to play their usual soccer
game. Just before they started the match an army of policemen came and
took them away to the police station that is based in Harare Central.
The two outreach workers who had gone to provide technical support to
the children playing soccer were helpless as they watched the 30 children
being bundled away by policemen. The children looked frightened.
They were told not to run away. One of the children who tried to run away
was injured by a police button stick in the process. Streets Ahead provided
him with medical support.
The two-outreach workers
followed the children to the police station but they were told to stay
put. Some of the children reported that they were kept in cells at the
central police station for an average of 2 - 5 days. One boy exclaimed "There
were many of us in one cell, the cell was suffocating and two people collapsed". Some
of the children who found their way back in town told us that they
were given a portion of Sadza and some Kapenta fish as the only meal for
the day while they were in the police cells. They slept on the floor in
the same cells with street vendors and others. After 2 - 5 days behind
police cells they transferred to Caledonia farm and Kadoma. Those at Caledonia
farm had their hair shaved off by the police as an "identity". Some of
the children sneaked out of Caledonia Farm and started walking back to
Streets Ahead is in
the process of trying to have access to the children and try to provide
for their needs. As an organization we do not support round ups. Round ups
have been done several times and have not worked effectively. Some of
the children will still come back to live on the streets. In 2003-2004
we reunited 130 children with their families. More than 95%
of the children we reunited did not come back to live on the streets. We
believe a home environment is better for any child development. Reunification
becomes sustainable if the proper procedures are followed such as pre
and post counseling, family counseling, better life alternatives, community
advocacy to make the street children "our issue" and a sample of
following steps can make family reunification more sustainable:
- Creating a friendly
environment for children
- Building trust
with the children
- Showing the street
children love and concern so that they do not become defensive
- Collecting their
life history and family tree
- Collecting information
on why they left home and make attempts to be the arbitrator with
- Conduct family
investigations and see if family reunification is an option for the
- Provide the child
and the family with counseling on a regular basis
- Prepare an action
plan for the child. Allow the child to participate so that they feel
- Child participation
gives the child a chance to be heard and to determine a solution to
- Try to come up
with mutual alternatives that are better than life on the streets
- Make the child
realize that life on the streets is dangerous
- Implement the action
plan which may involve family placement and education
- Follow up and see
how suspected difficult cases at reunification are coping
- Work with or through local
- Provide community
advocacy to help resolve the issue of street children
- Avoid forcing the
child back for reunification
Visit the Streets
Ahead fact sheet
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