WHY ARE KIDS ON THE STREETS?
While each child has their own, unique story, there are a few situations that are more prevalent as reasons to why the kids are living on the streets. Contrary to popular belief, most of the children are not orphans but rather have a family that is unable or unwilling to provide adequate support. Many of the kids leave home because their families do not have enough money to support the children or because they are being physical and emotionally abused at home. There are, however, some children that are completely orphaned. This is due to problems, such as, HIV/AIDS and traffic accidents. While there are a few orphanages throughout the area, they are not taking in more children, as they are running out of space and resources. They also tend to take in the children before they have actually made it to the streets, taking in children as families present them to the orphanages. The kids on the streets are frequently looked down upon by the community and the government, leaving them very little care services.
LIFE ON THE STREETS
A typical day for those living on the streets includes begging or performing odd jobs for enough money to eat. Many also dig in the local trash dumps for 'salvagable' food. Their days are also spent socializing, including gambling, listening to music and playing football (soccer). At the end of the day, the boys either go to rest on the verandas of local shops or in a charcoal hut. As they are normally estranged from their families, the boys have learned to create a sense camaraderie. While they have learned to treat each other in a brotherly manner, bonding does not come without it's fair share of conflicts. Much like siblings, the boys tend to handle certain matters in an unruly and violent manner. Much of the violence can result in the need for medical care, which is difficult to come by, as they struggle for money.
Walking around the streets of Kenya, one cannot help but notice the abundance of children running around and begging with little plastic bottles nestled in their mouths. The kids fill up used plastic bottles with glue, conventionally used for repairing shoes. They then sniff the glue in order to get a 'high'. The altered state helps them to cope with hunger pains and keeping them warm at night.
Most of the kids, living on the street of Bungoma, are boys. The reason for this is that most of the girls that run away or are pushed out of their homes are quickly swept up into prostitution or made into housekeepers. We currently support one girl, who is living with her aunt, as we would find it inappropriate for her to live in a house full of boys. We hope that the future will allow us to also support those girls that have been forced to work dangerous and degrading jobs, into nice homes and a lively education.