Almost two thirds of these children will have been spending time living on the streets since the age of ten, or younger. Street children will most likely have been pushed out of their homes by violence, parental poverty or family breakdown.
On the street, these children face further abuse, including from tourists and the police. Despite being victims of circumstance and existing in the worst conditions, street children are treated as less than human and are often spat on, beaten, and called derogatory names.
Four in five of these children will turn to solvent abuse as a way to cope with the trauma of living on the street. They collect rubbish and rags, or beg, in order to earn money to survive. These children exist within a cycle of poverty and abuse – unable to get proper, paid work, they will continue to suffer from addiction, abuse and psychological trauma, and many will die young.
Here at Kidasha, we are working to break this cycle. Our work is not just about getting these children off of the streets, but also facilitating their recovery, teaching them valuable skills, and preventing them from ever having to return to this way of life. We also work directly with families to put an end to the conditions which force children out of their homes and onto the streets.
The best illustration of the work that Kidasha does is the impact that it has on individual children’s lives, like Arjun.
Arjun was around eight or nine when he first ran away from home. He returned home to find that his father was in jail, and his mother had married another man. Parental remarriage is known to us as another motivation for children to leave home, with parents unable or unwilling to look after children after remarrying.
Arjun ran away again, and lived on the street. He turned to stealing and solvent abuse in order to get by, and started hanging around with a gang. At night, the police would come and beat him. Arjun would lose his shoes running from them, and sustain injuries by cutting his feet on broken glass.
Arjun came to stay at one of our centres for street children. He was looked after, and we provided him with food, shelter, healthcare and protection from further abuse and harm. Arjun felt motivated to learn so that he could work and reintegrate with his community.
He got a job selling mineral water, and then was given the opportunity to learn to metal workshop, which he prefers. Staying at the centre allowed Arjun to access the education that will set him up for a better life in the long term. In his own words, ‘in the future I hope to become a skilled worker and I will go home. The street life, that’s done for me.’
You can see Arujun’s story and the stories of other children like him in our award winning short film – Street Life.
At our centres, every year we provide shelter for over 200 out of home children like Arjun, and help 2000 vulnerable or at risk children. Of these children, we reintegrate two out of five with their families or independently within their community. The centres provide children with counselling, healthcare, safety and education – they have the opportunity to access formal education and skills training, as well as learn important life skills that will prevent them from re-entering the cycle of poverty and abuse.
Given the United Nations’ recent comments on the troubling number of children on the street worldwide, the plight of street children is now in the public eye. The work we do at Kidasha makes a momentous difference to the lives of street children in Nepal. We are committed to providing them not just with shelter, but with a better future for the rest of their lives.
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