There are children, Living on the streets...

No child should be forced to sleep on the streets. But tonight, hundreds of thousands of children in Kenya will lay down their heads under shipping containers, in drainage ditches and underneath parked cars. 

A 2012 Unicef report estimated that there were 250-300,000 children living on the streets in Kenya.

why children leave home

Children can leave home and end up on the streets for many reasons, but the most common are:

Poverty. Many boys end up on the streets because their family doesn't have enough money for school fees and/or food. Often times, this is the situation with single mothers. It's usually a gradual transition to the streets--boys will hang out on the streets during the day and sleep at home until they decide to leave completely due to peer pressure or addiction. 

Abuse. Many times this is the case when a parent remarries and the step-parent doesn't want the children from the first marriage. He or she will abuse them or treat them as second-class children until they run away to the streets. This can also occur when a relative or neighbor is beating or sexually abusing the child. 

Death of a parent. Some children end up on the streets because one or both of their parents have died and no other relative will take them. 

Misunderstanding at home. Sometimes children run away when they have a conflict at home or a misunderstanding with their parents. In this case, it is usually easy to reunite the child with his family. 

Life on the streets

When children are living in the streets, they organize themselves into “bases.” A base is a group of approximately 3-40 children living together for the purpose of mutual help and safety. While the base helps provide protection against older gangs, it can also function as a sort of gang itself. There are sometimes hazing rituals, and younger boys are often forced to beg for boys who have become too old to beg.

While some boys will beg, most boys will collect plastics and metals to sell to a dealer to make money. A full day’s work will usually earn a boy less than two dollars.

While living on the streets, many boys will turn to drugs such as marijuana, glue, jet fuel and alcohol to numb feelings of hunger, cold or pain they feel.

Boys living on the street will often face harassment by the general public, as well as government officials. Being homeless is a crime in Kenya, so the boys live in fear of being arrested at any time.

The boys also face sexual exploitation by older boys and men living on the street, which puts them at risk of contracting STDs and HIV/AIDS. Boys also face physical and emotional abuse, hunger, exposure to the elements and poor sanitation conditions, which can often lead to sickness.

Why isn't anyone helping?

While many orphanages exist within Kenya, very few are willing to accept boys who have been on the streets.

We believe, and research confirms, that long-term, orphanages are not the best place for a child. 

The healthiest place for a child is in a family. That's where Naivasha Children's Shelter comes in.