Friends of the Street Children
"Now I have learned to count, I know how much the market people are paying me. I was always being short changed before".
Friends of the Street Children (FSC) are an exceptional organisation, working in the Copper-belt town of Kitwe, Zambia. They were founded in 2000, and now run an outreach programme and a drop in centre, a medical assistance programme and two centres where children are able to stay and prepare to go home.
FSC staff identify and make first contact with children living and working on the streets. It is through this regular contact, that they help children consider their next steps; whether it’s inviting them to attend drop-in centre facilities, re-enrol in school, learn a trade or return home to their families. Anthony accompanied team members visiting the streets and was struck by “the obvious need shown in the street outreaches I went on, both day and night”.
Chibusa Home caters for girls aged 2 - 18, and boys under the age of 11. The children are able to stay in the home for as long as they need whilst the workers counsel them, place them back into schools, and try to trace their families. Reintegration back into families from these centres takes a long time and forward planning to be successful - after all, if a child is returned to a home where the causes have not yet been addressed, they are far more likely to return to the streets. FSC therefore also work with the families providing them with a small loan system to empower them and let them realise their own earning potential. All sorts of small businesses have been set up, from chicken rearing to carpentry. The families have to repay FSC a certain amount of their earnings, but the rest goes to helping ensure that school fees are paid and that the children have access to at least one balanced meal a day.
FSC also run Kawama Centre as a rehabilitation programme for boys aged 12 - 18. This centre was purpose built in 2007 by the Romilly Forshaw Foundation, St John Houghton School and Street Child Africa. The centre provides accommodation for up to 30 boys at one time, and has a purpose built classroom and resident teacher, Meya, to enable those children who have not been to school previously to catch up with their peers. Meya is energetic and liked by the children, who respond well to her lessons.
Skills training such as carpentry, is also offered at the centre, along with recreation activities such as football. Like Chibusa Home, the aim of the centre is to rehabilitate the children back into their communities/families.
The FSC team are working hard to support street children and to become more self-sufficient. Both centres grow vegetables to feed the children, with the aim of selling excess produce in the future and activities such as egg-laying (from SCA-funded chickens!) are also beginning to help.
Christopher Mulenga, Executive Chairperson at Friends of the Street Children:
“Street children are children like any other, it is just the circumstances that make them live the way they do. Education is the mainstay of children's survival, our organisation endeavours to shape the destiny of these children by empowering them with educational and occupational skills that will enable them to enter the world of work!”
You can also follow Friends of the Street Children on Facebook.