In Zambia there are no policies aimed at protecting the human rights of street children and the children who have committed crimes. Thus, most of them cannot attend school nor have access to recreational activities. Furthermore, teachers and social workers are not adequately trained.
Project objective: the project aims to protect the rights of vulnerable children and of the children who have committed crimes by offering quality education and recreational activities, promoting reintegration into families and providing training for teachers and social workers
quality education for
250 street children or children held in young offenders’ centres
supporting 1,252 family members
of street children
training courses for
According to the National Child Policy, between 13,000 and 14,000 boys (85%) and girls (15%) live in the streets in Zambia. Most are orphans, poor and have a very low school attendance. Because of this, they tend to make a living doing odd jobs or begging. One in four sleeps rough, exposed to violence and abuse.
Despite the government’s announcements, there are no policies aimed at protecting their rights. School costs are high and this means that many street boys and girls are unable to attend classes or take part in recreational activities. Teachers and social workers have not been adequately trained to deal with this phenomenon. Also lacking are programmes for the reintegration into families and for supporting the boys and girls once they leave the young offenders’ centres. The resulting social stigma associated with these young people keeps them away from society and prevents their full reintegration.
Street boys and girls or those held in young offenders’ centres are resources, and as such they need to be supported and valued because they can give back so much to society. They need to be helped to study, learn a trade and, above all, they need to be given the affection and the warmth only their family can guarantee.
Training and reintegration is a long and sometimes challenging commitment because it involves fighting social stigma, mistrust and fears. For about twenty years, the Mthunzi Centre, located a few kilometres from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, has been carrying out this task, which is being supported by the project.
The life of neglect and hardship experienced by these young and very young people mean that they are unable to develop the basic skills they need to build a personality. Supporting them in their growth by helping them through study and giving them constant personal support is therefore essential.
The Mthunzi Centre guarantees them the opportunity to attend a school with basic courses, as well as professional courses that teach them a trade that will secure their future.
Street children are looked after and helped and given constant and special attention: they hold a treasure inside that needs to be discovered and enhanced every day.
For this reason, we are not only focusing on children, but also on educators and teachers, who are the ones who must make the most of training. The professional courses organised by the centre are thus aimed to help them work with street boys and girls and with the kids from the young offenders’ centre. While not easy, this is an exciting task because it can truly uncover hidden talents.
Human and professional training is however not enough. Those who run away from home, have been abandoned, have lived through the hard experience of prison face a social mistrust that frustrates all efforts and can become an insurmountable barrier.
We work to ensure that these boys and girls are reintegrated into their family and their community.
Local authorities must also be involved by being offered studies with reliable data on street children and models that could also be used by the state to improve society integration programmes.
The project provides access to quality training, recreational activities and family reintegration programmes to street boys and girls and children who have committed crimes. The ultimate goal is to improve their living conditions.
In particular, the following will be involved:
to support a teacher’s training
to support the children's recreational activities
to finance educational courses for children in the young offenders' centres
to support youth reintegration programmes