The Drop in Centre is an interesting place to work at because it is a hub of activity, around which a lot of different S.A.L.V.E. programmes run.
Children come to the Drop in Centre from 8am every day, and usually begin by washing their clothes, after greeting the staff. After this they bathe themselves, brush their teeth and help with any cleaning, before playing some board games while they wait for a breakfast of porridge. As with all children, it’s not always easy to convince them to wash their clothes, but this is very important to help them stay healthy for example by reducing lice!
After porridge, children are engaged in lessons in the class by two staff/ volunteers who act as co-teachers. The topics we teach depend on the children who are with us at the centre that day and what they would like to discuss with us. For example, it could be about personal hygeine, or the importance of being a good role model, or on the problems with using drugs. This is where it is really useful that our staff know the indiviidual children and have already begun to develop relationships with them. Therefore, they know which kind of topic is needed to best help the children we have at the centre that day. In the middle of the lesson, children have to relax for break, they either remain in the class playing games or go out for some thirty minutes to run around and play after which they return to the class to finish up the lesson. We try to teach the topics in different interesting ways i.e. through art, drama and dance to keep the children engaged.
At lunch time, children are given big plates of food for example, posho or rice and beans or cabbage and greens. Many children on the streets do not know where their next meal is coming from, so it is important that this is filling and nutritious. The children all make sure that there are no leftovers, and the staff working at the centre get a plate to eat with the children too. After lunch, some children who have appointments with staff remain behind for afternoon one to one counseling as other children go back to the streets to look for a means to survive. At night, they move from one busy point to another, often asking local market stallholders if there is a way for them to earn some small money. Very late at night, they often sleep in groups on the streets. The following day they again come back to Drop in Centre, and we start our work over again.
On Wednesday afternoons, we hold a sports session on a field near to our centre. Here, we can encourage new children to come and get to know our team. They soon realise they have nothing to fear and begin regularly attending our centre. The sports sessions are a good opportunity for them to play together and forget their responsibilities, to have fresh fruit which we provide, and to speak to our staff about life on the streets and how best they can leave it.
One of the interesting activities with our children is when staff carry out a night street walk. This involves head counting of all of the street connected children sleeping in the open that night and particularly meeting those who are new and that are not receiving any support from an organisation. When they see us they feel so happy and most of them walk with us and help the team to find their new friends. We also encourage them to attend the Drop in Centre activities and to attend to sports so we can get to know them better.
Street connected children who attend Drop in Centre activities are, when they trust us enough and are ready, either referred to the Halfway Home or Drug Rehabilitation Centre before they are home traced to their parents or relatives. Some can even be home traced straight away from Drop in Centre depending on the specific case of each child.
We hope from this short explanation of life at the Drop in Centre, you can begin to see the importance of our centre.
We are hoping our new centre will give us the extra space to work with even more children, and ensure they all have the opportunity to leave the streets! Please donate to our Big Give Christmas campaign by clicking here. From 27th November until noon on the 4th December, donations to our campaign will be doubled, supporting our dream of an even bigger and better Drop in Centre that is so essential for our work and to give more children the chance they deserve to leave the streets. Thank you for joining hands with us to see there is no street called home.