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Cases of child neglect, abuse spike as rescue centers struggle to cope

Child welfare stakeholders in Thika town have raised concern over rising child abuse and neglect cases during this Covid-19 season, with rescue centers struggling to cope with the situation.

Most of the victims have been forced to seek refuge at rescue centres and in the streets where they can find protection.
The MACHEO Rescue center, for example, has been able to recruit some eight children in the past one month, the highest number they have brought on board for years.
Most of the children complained that perpetrators of the abuses are parents and close relatives.
Joan Wambui a social worker at the facility said the center normally rescues one or two children a month but is now struggling to cope with additional brought on board.
She says Sub County children department have recommended more children at the center given that the street children population is on the rise.
“During the onset of Covid-19 in the country, we released some children to their homes. However, we are slowly rehabilitating fresh children rescued from abandonment, sexual and physical abuse related to people from their families,” she says.
The centre now has 55 children under their support programme most of them brought by the Children Department in Thika West Sub-county.
It is also supporting over 20,000 vulnerable families in the country where it has a feeding programme in slum areas like Kiandutu and others. In Kiandutu slum Thika, MACHEO is feeding over 700 families.
To cushion extremely poor and vulnerable families from acute financial loss, the organization has come up with a cash transfer program where they give each family Sh250 per day.
The organization’s CEO Manix Huis says if the virus continues to bite, such cases may intensify as residents struggle to provide basic needs due to job losses and salary cuts.
MACHEO Service Delivery Manager Seth Mwangi says they are struggling to handle the increasing number of children, given that their support networks have been cut by the lockdown in various countries.
She appealed for support from the national and county governments as well as donors and well-wishers to be able to take in more deserving children at the centre.
Thika town has been hard hit by containment of nearby counties where some residents used to go to work. Others have been laid off from their work places as local industries feel the heat of the impact of coronavirus.
By Muoki Charles

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