It’s hard to leave street life behind. For a boy or a girl with no family or with a broken family, the street is all there is. And that means violence, oppression, drugs, alcohol. Yet it is also a world where unspoken rules offer a minimum of security to those who have been abandoned. Offering these young people an opportunity to help them break away from a life of marginalization is therefore not an easy task. Through the Street Children project in Zambia, CELIM aims to protect the rights of vulnerable children by offering quality education and recreational activities, improving the services of the centres that welcome them and promoting reintegration into families.

Street kids are a big problem in Zambia. According to the National Child Policy, between 13,000 and 14,000 of boys (85%) and girls (15%) live in the streets in Zambia. Most are orphans, poor and have a very low level of schooling. Because of this, they tend to make a living doing odd jobs or begging. One in four sleeps rough, exposed to violence and abuse.

However, the first results of the project are already beginning to show. In December, the staff of CELIM and the Mthunzi Centre carried out assessment activities in the various compounds of Lusaka, to identify the benefits of the project with regards to former street children and their families. ‘The latter – as explained by CELIM operators – were satisfied with the improvement in the living conditions of their children, and were happy about the great opportunity that had been given to their children, in terms of social and educational inclusion.’

In addition, in anticipation of school lessons resuming in 2023, the new Rescue Centre (an initial reception centre) has undergone significant restoration and improvement work, which included the installation of water collection tanks and a new kitchen and the repainting of all internal walls, as well as the purchase of new tables and benches for classes and extracurricular activities. As CELIM operators explain, ‘This improved the hospitality this centre reserves for street children waiting to be reunited with their families’.