Grow Your Know – July 2016
Street Children in Kenya
by Renee Miller
For this edition of Grow Your Know, we will explore the plight of street children in Kenya. Although their childhood is similar to street children around the world, these children are some of the most marginalized children in Kenya.
Here is Jacob’s story (adapted from a case study, Jacob):
He is a boy “of” the streets. Jacob lives in Nairobi in a small area surrounded by kiosks, clothing stands and a fenced side street. About 30 street boys live in this same area, sleeping under the stars on cardboard and nylon paper laid upon granite slabs. They huddle around a fire to keep the chill off in the evening, while two nearby trees offer shade on the hottest of days.
Many boys that reside in this area, including Jacob, collect waste paper for recycling. They are able to sell these papers to the local paper recycling business woman and make a little money. During the rainy season though, they can’t depend on this work since wet paper doesn’t sell. During these times, Jacob depends on begging to make money. If Jacob has money, he gets to eat, if he doesn’t, he goes without food. Some days he is fortunate when a local church goes around to distribute food to the homeless. Besides food, the other thing Jacob spends money on is on glue; something he has become addicted to for the purpose of getting high.
This isn’t the life Jacob wanted. He desperately wanted someone to sponsor him so he could attend school and achieve his ambitions, but at 15 years old, there are no prospects in sight.
Children “of” the streets are typically orphans or abandoned children. The majority of them are boys and don’t have kinship connections to offer any support, leaving these children to rely only on themselves.
Street children use survival strategies such as prostitution, collecting garbage, begging, washing cars, petty theft and selling drugs. They work long days to earn small amounts of money, and many of these children, like Jacob, are addicted to sniffing glue to escape their reality.
Many statistics describing street children in Kenya are derived from a 16-year-old study published by the Consortium of Street Children. At that time, there were 50,000 street children in Nairobi, with the government estimating that the number was growing by 10% each year. Although we cannot estimate with certainty the number of street children today, it is a significant problem.
This is not an easy problem to solve, but there are steps we can take to reduce the number of street children. One of the most important things we can do is sponsor children to attend school. This is a critical step in breaking the cycle of poverty.
Through partnerships with Spring Valley Children’s Centre and Hope for Orphans Rescue Center, Global Hope is enabling many orphaned, abandoned and poor children in Nairobi to get an education. As these children go to school, they have a sense of purpose and meaning. They are seeing the possibilities of what they can do and be. And, when you look into their eyes, you see hope! If you’d like to consider sponsoring a child in one of these, or any of our locations, visit: www.globalhope.org/sponsor.
 Kilbride, P., Suda, C., & Njeru, E. (2000). Street Children in Kenya: Voice of Children in Search of a Childhood. Westpont: Bergin & Garvey.
From the July newsletter: