Ten street children living with disability in Kisumu County have been reintegrated back to their families after a successful campaign by the Department of Children’s Services.
Kisumu Central Sub County Children’s Officer Joash Okumu said the exercise was in line with the government’s directive to deinstitutionalize children and offer alternative parenting.
The children, he added, have been issued with supportive devices among them wheelchairs, hearing devices, sunscreen glasses and oils to make their stay comfortable.
“We have provided those who need wheelchairs and other equipment to help them live comfortably at home so that they don’t end up in the streets again when they feel the need for independence” he said.
An assessment program, he added, has been developed to follow up and ensure that the reintegrated children are well taken care of within the respective families.
“Sometimes it is hard to re-unite them as their needs are different from those of other children. We have therefore liaised with social workers to offer counseling for the parents on how to handle them,” he said.
The counseling program, he said, targets to resolve some of the issues at home which push the affected children to the streets.
To eradicate the street children menace, Okumu said the department has embarked on issuance of business startup kits to poor households to enable them venture into business to provide for their children.
“We have found out that poverty is the main cause of the rise of children in the streets. Therefore, we must deal with that first before reintegrating the children back to their families,” he said.
As the country gears towards the general elections, the department of children services, he disclosed, has partnered with various Community Based Organizations to address the plight of street children.
This, he said, was critical to ensure that the children are safe and they are not misused by politicians.
He urged more organizations to join the drive since the number of street children in the area was increasing by the day.
Benson Abila, Director Homeless of Kisumu that deals with the feeding, counseling and advocating for street connected children said that they are coming up with projects to ensure peace is maintained in the streets.
“As an organization we have involved the children in activities like football where they have a team that keeps them engaged,” he said.
The children, he added, were also involved in art and crafts where they use waste materials to make home decor and beauty accessories.
“We should give these children meaningful solutions. If we engage them, they will have no time to be involved or used to cause chaos during elections,” said Abila.
By Evangeline Mola and Lorine Awino