Sometimes these children are abandoned by their parents acting out of economic necessity, sometimes they are orphaned because of HIV/AIDS, but whatever the reason, the sight of children begging and trying to scratch out a living in a big city is heart wrenching.
In some cities these children are so commonplace that they go unnoticed to the other city dwellers.
SOS Children among its many other projects has specific programs for "Street Children." And while the efforts of SOS are worldwide, I am only going to focus on their projects in Zambia and Kenya. For additional information on their other projects please visit their home web page at:
SOS Street Children Zambia
According to the SOS web site, in Zambia
o over 30% of all children under the age of 15 are orphans
o 80% of the people in rural areas live below the poverty line
o half a million young children are living on the streets, with no one to look after them
Declaring its intent to reduce the hardships of life being suffered by the young of Zambia,
SOS Children points out that it opened its first community for orphaned children in Lusaka in 1999. That community houses almost 200 boys and girls today.
While rescuing and nurturing nearly 200 children is a huge effort, there are still so many more boys and girls living on the cities streets.
In an effort to widen its impact SOS Children has also "recently established an outreach project aimed specifically at helping the thousands of children that are still condemned to scratching a living from the town's streets" .
This outreach project involved SOS Children setting up two centers; a Social Center and a Medical Center. According to their web site:
The Social Center encourages street children - often as young as six years old - to 'drop in'. They are provided with food, and information on HIV/Aids, hygiene, health services, education and training. Currently some 800 children are being helped in this way each year."
The Medical Center gives a full range of health services to about 2000 people every month, and welcomes the many street children that appear at its door. It also helps families already being supported by the Social Center. The main diseases treated are respiratory infections, malaria and stomach disorders. Voluntary HIV/Aids testing is also available."
The Social Center also provides support to families whose children are at risk of becoming street children. Through this outreach program over 300 children have been able to return to school. Older children are also being provided vocational training.
Despite the great efforts of SOS in Zambia, in their appeal for assistance they state, "(T)he number (of children) we have reached so far is still only a tiny fraction of the thousands who need our services."
SOS Children: Street Children in Kenya
SOS says that in Kenya "life is short and dirty for street Children."
Ravaged by poverty, war and globalisation, approximately 250,000 people are homeless in Nairobil, the country's capital. And it is the children who are condemned to suffer the worst of it.
Some work, but many beg to obtain the basic necessities for life. "They polish shoes, wash windscreens, pick pockets and beg. Most of them take drugs when they can, are malnourished and are sick."
SOS Children's Villages first established its project in Nairobi in 1973 and has grown "considerably" since then. In partnership with Unilever, SOS recently launched a program called "Give a Child a Good Start." Give a Child a Good Start in order to carry out its objective of feeding the homeless recently organized a "street breakfast" that was attended by over 400 children. Also I partnership with Unilever, SOS has helped to refurbish a children's hostel in one of Nairobi's poorest districts, Ngara.
There is great difficulty in rescuing and rehabilitating street children. They tend to be very independent and sometimes resistant to being integrated into a society that is foreign to them. About this SOS says: "A tolerant step by step approach is essential. And gradually, as the children are relieved of the day to day pressures of managing their own survival, they become increasingly keen to learn and take part in social activities."
I have written about SOS Children before, and I will write about them some more, because there is a lot that they are doing to help children, not only in Africa, but all over the world. If you read this Blog, you must have some concern for the poor of the world and for those who suffer among us. So, if you want to learn more about what SOS is doing for Street Children at, go to:
And if you want to learn more about SOS Children's other projects, visit their web site at: