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Parents asked to step up responsibility of nurturing

Parents from Vihiga County have been cautioned against shying from their parental responsibilities in a bid to curb the street children menace.

Speaking Wednesday while marking Vihiga County Street children’s day at Mukuli Salvation Army church, the County Children’s Officer Aggrey Ambwaya asked parents not to abdicate their parental roles so as to ensure their children grow into responsible citizens.

Ambwaya regretted that many parents were leaving their children without any form guidance and were not close to them at all, which was pushing some of the youngsters into the streets, where they weren’t safe.

Consequently, the children’s officer issued a stern warning to a section of parents, fond of sending their children to sell wares in Luanda, Mbale, Majengo, Cheptulu and other major towns in Vihiga County that they risk being arrested for endangering the lives of their off springs.

“I will not condone the issue of parents sending their children to hawk wares or beg in the streets as this is contributing to the rise in the number of teenage pregnancies, homosexuality and sexually transmitted diseases,” said Ambwaya.

He emphasized that home remains the best place for children to be raised, while asking parents to provide for their children needs based on the four pillars of survival, development, child protection and participation.

Ambaya also cautioned business people who were taking advantage of the street children and engaging them in child labour instead of assisting to reform and rehabilitate them that they risked prosecution.

He added that there are 150 street connected children in Vihiga County saying that it will take concerted efforts by all relevant stakeholders to get rid of these toddlers from the streets and integrate them back to their families.

He also asked the police to handle the street children with compassion during raids saying they have a right to be protected.

Speaking during the same event, Father Martin Chibole of Hambale Catholic church who is also the chaplain of family life programme in Vihiga County said street connected children needed to be reintegrated back into the family as home is always the best place to be.

He commended St. Joseph Rehabilitation Centre for taking about 40 street children every year and taking them through a one-year rehabilitation programme, before reintegrating them back home, or sending them to charitable children institutions.

He asked all stakeholders to look for the root cause of these children going to the streets and deal with it so that the menace is curbed once and for all.

Bonface Azango, who is currently a caterer and a former beneficiary of St. Joseph Rehabilitation Centre thanked the facility for giving him a second chance saying he can now depend on himself, and even help reform other street connected children.

By Maureen Imbayi

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