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Stakeholders meet to address plight of street families

The Rotary Club of Nyeri is partnering with the County Government to address the plight of children living on the streets.

The partnership which has roped in several other stakeholders including the Department of Children Services and Charitable Homes aims to move street families from the streets and find alternative homes, where they can realize their life’s dreams.

Street children together with members of the local Rotary Club dance during a street family fun day organized by the club at the Wangari Maathai Cultural Hall in Nyeri town. By Wangari Mwangi

Nyeri Rotary Club President Serah Githaiga, while addressing the media during a Street Family Fun Day held at the Nyeri Cultural Center Hall, said they plan to get rid of all children from the streets, including those with babies and replicate what has been achieved in other local towns such as Othaya, Mukurwe-ini and Karatina, where a similar drive has managed solve the menace.

“We would want to take them to children homes if they agree. We will assist them to connect to these institutions that support them so that they are able to learn and at the same time raise their children, hoping that life will change for them,” Githaiga told the media.

During the exercise targeting at least 400 children, the organizers will hold a one-to-one talk with the children touching on the challenges they encounter and whether they would be willing to be assisted to relocate to an institution that can help them tap into their God-given talents.

Nursing mothers will also have the choice of being linked with a children’s home, where they can be taken care of alongside their babies.

Among homes that have volunteered to take in such mothers include Serene Haven in Mweiga town.

Peter Githinji, a Rotary Club official based in Karatina says he believes the success story of Karatina, Othaya and Mukurwe-ini can also be replicated in Nyeri town.

He says when he started working with the Club in 1996, there were more than 200 street children loitering in Karatina, but admits this number has now been reduced to zero, owing to concerted efforts between non-government organizations and the devolved government that saw such children moved to safe havens.

However, according to Githinji, success for the campaign of moving such families to safe institutions depends on a myriad of factors, including the reasons that drove them into the streets in the first place.

“Karatina town had 233 street children a number of years ago, but today that problem has been solved, owing to partnership between various stakeholders in addressing the challenge. But to implement this policy here, we must first of all know what brought these children to the streets. Nevertheless, if the plan worked in Karatina town, we do believe it can also work here,” he added.

During the event, apart from fun games, the donors had also prepared meals and drinks for the children, with similar treats expected to be carried out during the coming festive season.

According to Kenya Children of Hope, a nonprofit organization, there are around 250,000 to 300,000 street children living in various major urban centers in the country.

Out of this number, 63 per cent have been on the streets on a part or full-time basis for up to five years. This number is said to be rising at an alarming rate especially in Nairobi, where 70,000 children are said to live on the streets.

By Samuel Maina

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