Children leave their homes and turn to the streets for different reasons. Before I started working with S.A.L.V.E. International, I thought that children leave their homes for reasons of their own making, but after I started working with this organisation, I came to understand that children leave their homes for different reasons but not necessarily from their own making.
S.A.L.V.E. is an organisation which supports with children on streets to help and identify their homes, because we all know that all children at least have some where they have come from. So the organisation helps to identify their home places, home traces them and tries to help resolve their problems between them and the family members. Once a child has settled at home, we assess the family to see if there is a need for educational sponsorship for the child and/or business support for the family. Some of the children left their homes because of lack of school fees and think that coming to street is one way of getting fees but then get drawn into street life when they realise they will not be able to make lots of money on the streets. By enrolling them into school, where they family in not able to, we are reducing the risk of them returning to the streets in the future. Then if we help the family to start a business and gain those skills we know they will be able to provide the child’s basic needs of food and shelter and make sure the siblings are also studying.
I also came to understand that the children while on streets suffer from so many problems such as lack of shelter as they spend their nights outside buildings in open places where they sleep. They also have no food to eat because they have no steady source of income, these children are also time and again arrested from streets and put in prison. The children after leaving prison, become hostile and friendless and therefore they do all what comes on their minds (good and bad behaviours) because they have no one to help in making good decisions. They are also neglected by the society, as the people around them think that they are thieves. Yet it’s not the case but we instead need to comfort and guide them in all what they do. They are also not loved by their relatives as they are taken as thieves when they go back to their homes. So it is important the relatives of these children have to do all what they can so as to restore their children’s love in them. As a street outreach worker, one of our jobs is to help families learn to trust each other again and rebuild their relationships and overcome these negative feelings towards each other.
Respect each others rights
The only advise I would give the nation is that if we could all value each other’s rights in that whatever one does to the other is thought about before, I mean being empathetic to each other, then such cases of the children leaving their homes because of lack of care in their homes by the relatives would stop to be existing in the community.
Africa as a continent decided to advocate for the children by introducing the day of the African child which is celebrated in different countries and its celebrated on the 16th June of every year. In Uganda for example, this year it was celebrated in Jinja District by different organisations which advocate for the rights of children, including S.A.L.V.E International and it created much impact to the community to think about how they care for their children.
It is not only the African continent that advocates for the rights of children on the streets but it is also celebrated internationally. For example there is the International Day for Street Children which is celebrated by different countries in the world and in so doing, people are advised on how to treat children living and working on the streets with kindness and love and to see them as children not as a stereotype.
I thank all people in different capacities who work hard in advocating for the rights of children, and for those who ignore children’s rights, I ask you just to think about tomorrow, because the future of the world is in the children as they are the leaders of tomorrow.