Working with Street Children in Kenya
Rose, Fatou, Poppin and Edward: two young women and two young men living in Nairobi. They are some of the key Scout leaders supporting the “Extension Scout Programme” in Kenya. Let us discover what they are doing.
They are reportedly over 60,000 street children in Nairobi (as well as in other major towns in Kenya). A street child is someone who does not have a home or any place to go at night other than the street pavements and the street shop verandas. The street children survive by scavenging for food in waste bins and rubbish dumps, by begging and stealing and other petty crimes. They sniff glue and take drugs and are always dirty.
In the eighties, the Scout Association of Kenya launched the “Extension Scout Programme”, with the aim to help children and young people “living in difficult circumstances”.
Rovers and young leaders, like Rose, Fatou, Poppin and Oliver, receive a special training to help them to deal with the particular situation of street children, e.g. counselling skills to help the street children, to stop glue sniffing, adolescent sexual health issues, etc.
Then they go in the streets and observe the gangs of street children. They talk with them, analysing their conditions of life and the problems they face. They identify the gang leaders, develop a relation of trust with them and then invite them to a Patrol Leaders’ training course.
During this special course, the gang leaders acquire the motivation and the skills to help their companions. When they come back to the streets, they transform their gang into a Scout patrol. Adult leaders help them to find a shelter and to get better conditions of life by developing “income generating projects”. Through washing cars, bringing up chicken, cropping vegetables, cleaning the streets, they become self-sufficient by honest ways. They receive a scout uniform and mix with other Scouts in Scouting activities.
Full records are kept of all the children in the programme so that their progress can be monitored and their support tailored to meet their individual needs, e.g. schooling, developing interests, etc. The programme takes a very individual approach to working with the young people. Its aims are to:
- Reunite the children with their parents, families, relatives and well-wishers where possible.
- Allow children to come back to school or, if they are too old, to develop vocational skills
- Help children to be re-integrated into the community through their membership to the Scout Movement.
The Rowallan Scout camp site, the national Scout centre of the Kenyan Scout Association, is located in Nairobi near a large shanty town with many street children. The centre is equipped to support the Extension programme:
- a clinic – the Sisi Kwa Sisi clinic (For Ourselves and By Ourselves in Kiswahili) – has been installed to serve the street children free of charge.
- A vocational training centre has also been developed and allow young people to acquire skills in bakery, tailoring and farming.
Now the Extension Scout programme in Kenya is developed through 24 Scout units all over the country and serve more than 2000 young people.
Rose, Fatou, Poppin, Edward and all their friends working with street children in Kenya deserve to be “Scouts of the World”.