Many of the children on the street have been mistreated by the adults in their lives who were meant to look after them, and therefore find it very difficult to trust other adults. We want to show them that there are adults out there who care for them and who they can trust. That’s why our street outreach team is so vital.
Our street outreach programme exists to offer support to children still living on the streets, and an opportunity to access other services so they no longer have to call the streets home.
We do this through street walks, street sports and our drop in centre. We also offer medical care and support if a child has been rounded up and put into jail for being on the streets.
“My Step Mother tried to sell me to a witchdoctor! No amount of sharing this information with other members of the family, including my father, helped. So, feeling alone and with no choice, l went to find a better life on the streets,” said James, 14 years old.
“My Mum is an alcoholic! Some nights I would go home and see if she was drunk. If she was I would return to the street for the night as I feared her abusing me,” says Ian, 11 years old.
The street walks we do, allow us a chance to spend time with the children out on the streets, in their space. It is a chance to show the children that we care about them, find out how they are, meet new children who have just come to the streets of Jinja and highlight the other services we offer at S.A.L.V.E. that we would welcome them to join.
We visit the places where the children spend their time such as local scrap metal selling areas where they make their money, video halls and an area known as the sitting room where many of them hang out and look for work such as carrying things for market traders. Our goal is to learn about their life on the streets and build strong relationships with the children so that they trust us.
Our street outreach team are often the most stable adults in the children’s lives, and are looked up to and greatly respected. In fact, they are so well known amongst the children on the street that you can’t go anywhere in Jinja town without hearing ‘Uncle! Auntie!’ shouted from all around as the children rush to greet them. Seeing a friendly face is often one of the best parts of their day.
When children live on the streets, they have to work hard, and rarely get the chance to play and be a child. They especially love sports and requested that we have sports sessions for them to enjoy. These sports sessions are open to any child living on the streets to come and join. Its a chance to forget their troubles, have fun and learn valuable teamwork skills.
We also organise matches with other teams in the community to help to break down barriers and challenge negative stereotypes. When you play together you realise that children living on the streets are just like any other child.
Drop in Centre:
Our Drop in Centre is open Monday to Friday for children living on the streets of Jinja. We have space for up to 10 children per day, who want to get more counselling and support to plan their pathway off the streets.
We do a variety of activities from our centre; for example 1-2-1 and group counselling, art, drama, dance, music, life skills classes and career guidance. We also offer food, a place to wash their body and clothes and medical care.
We keep records of every child we meet through street outreach, which not only helps us keep track of how many children are currently living on the streets, but can also help us to identify a child if a parent comes looking for them or if they are sick or sadly die.
Once we know a child well enough and they trust us, we can plan together with them how best they can leave the streets. We might refer them to our Halfway Home, or some children prefer to be Home traced directly from the streets. Our programme is individually adapted for every child to give them the best possible chance of success.