Background info. on street children:

“They think every child who lives or makes a living in the streets is a bad child”
I wish that our community and government would love us and guide us and not be ashamed of us”[street child]

Who are “street children”?

The term ‘street children’ is hotly debated. Some say it is negative – that it labels and stigmatizes children. Others say it gives them an identity and a sense of belonging. It can include a very wide range of children who: are homeless; work on the streets but sleep at home; either do or do not have family contact; work in open-air markets; live on the streets with their families; live in day or night shelters; spend a lot of time in institutions (e.g. prison). The term ‘street children’ is used because it is short and widely understood. However, we must acknowledge the problems and wherever possible we should ask the children what they think themselves. In reality, street children defy such convenient generalizations because each child is unique.

How many are there?

Nobody knows. Street children are not easy to count because: they move around a lot, within and between cities; they are often excluded from ‘statistic-friendly’ infrastructures (schools, households etc.); definitions of ‘street children’ are vague and differing. Numbers of ‘street children’ have often been deliberately exaggerated and misquoted in order to sensationalise and victimise these children. Street children have the right to be accurately represented. City-level surveys conducted by local organisations and supported by a clear definition are more reliable. In many countries, there is anecdotal evidence that numbers are increasing, due to uncontrolled urbanisation (linked to poverty), conflict and children being orphaned by AIDS. Most statistics are just estimates e.g. Kenya: 250,000; Ethiopia: 150,000; Zimbabwe: 12,000; Bangladesh: 445,226; Nepal: 30,000; India: 11 million (these are based on broad definitions of ‘street children’). Regardless of the statistics, even one child on the streets is too many if their rights are being violated.

What about girls?

I have been a street girl since my father made a ‘woman’ out of me.
I carry on in the world, but I am really dead” (17 year old girl).

In general there are fewer girls than boys actually living on the streets (studies indicate between 3% and 30% depending on the country). This is for several reasons. In many cultures, there is much greater pressure for girls to stay at home than boys. Research shows that girls will put up with abuse at home for longer than boys but that once girls make the decision to leave home, the rupture is more permanent than for boys. Girls are also less visible on the streets as they are often forced or lured into brothels. Even though there are fewer street-living girls than boys, they are extremely vulnerable to human rights abuses both on the street and when they are arrested. However, it is important to note that street boys are also at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation as well as girls.

prevention 2

Where are their families?

Relatively few street children are actually orphans (although these numbers are increasing in some countries due to AIDS). The majority of street children are still in contact with their families and/or extended families. Many of them work on the streets in order to contribute to their family’s income. Those who run away often do so because of physical, psychological and/or sexual violence or abuse at home. Family breakdown is also common in the case of re-marriage and problems with step-parents. Importantly, many projects try to reunify street children with their families. However, this is a complex and frustrating task that requires much specialised counselling to address the root causes why the child ran away in the first place. Unfortunately, in many cases, reunification with the family fails, or is not in the best interests of the child. In these cases alternatives such as fostering, group homes and residential centres are needed. Street children are rarely alone, even if they have no family contact:
“Here we do not have any kind of blood relation with each other. But when we are in the street with other friends, though we do not have any name for our relation, we are like a family. We are all actually members of our street family.” [Street Diary, Save the Children Fund -UK Nepal, 2001]

What about the authorities?

Ironically, street children are often at greatest risk of violence from those that are responsible to protect them – the police and other authorities. Police often beat, harass, sexually assault and even torture street children. They may beat children for their money or demand payment for protection, to avoid false charges, or for release from custody. They may seek out girls to demand sex. For many street children, assaults and thefts by the police are a routine part of their lives. Some are even killed by police. Very rarely are those responsible brought to justice.

Victims, villains or heroes?

Many images and stories portray street children either as helpless victims, dangerous criminals or heroic survivors. The reality is usually somewhere in between. They show incredible resiliency and initiative in the face of desperate circumstances. They have to be resourceful and strong in order to survive. But some do not survive. Others can only do so by breaking the law. We should respect their individual stories and characteristics. Each child is unique.

Street Children and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
• Probably no environment contributes more to potential violations of the CRC than a childhood and youth spent outside the institutional framework of family and school in the usually hostile environment of the streets. Street life ministry is serving children who’re categorized as follows: those already economically and socially engaged on the street, those economically engaged on the street but stay at home for the night and those who’re on the verge of coming out on to the street. Its main objective is helping such people to be reintegrated into society and start leading a normal and peaceful life.

Streetchildren 1

These are some of the street children on the street of Adama

There are three major activities involved in our street and vulnerable children’s program:
  1. Prevention
  2. Reintegration/reconcile and
  3. Rehabilitation. See below in detail:

1. Prevention: This preventive measure takes into consideration those children who’ve recently run away from their homes and have just begun to live on the street, or those who’re about to come out from their home environment because of economic disadvantages, loss of one or both parents, or because of violence of one form or another, we try to counsel them and get them reconciled with their parents or relatives. We try to reach the parents and create a conducive family environment. We also attempt to show them the high risks of street life.

Those that have demonstrated dramatic change after receiving counseling service, material assistance and reconciled:

Illustrations of this type:

prevention 1

A photo showing counseling being offered

Actually engaged in the work The boy depicted in the photo as counseling being offered, named Ismael Sofania, went on to save money by doing different tasks, went on to sew seams and hem clothes like trousers and skirts.

prevention 2

A photo showing change of personality, washing their
clothes and keeping their personal hygiene


These are children who have actually left their home and have recently or for a long time been economically and socially engaged on the street. They left home for disagreeing on different levels, some because of drug addiction, others of violence and abuse, still others for economic pressures. Counsel is given to them and they’re clothed and returned to their families with gifts as a peace offering and reconciliation is made.

An Illustration: Abbu Biru was born in the small town called Alemtena about 100 kilometers south-east of Addis Ababa, on the way to Awasa. He grew up with his father and mother on a farmstead near the town. They owned a plot of land where they planted and collected lots of tomatoes. One day, however, he was persuaded by his close companion to sell crates of tomatoes and with the money they got to run away to Mojo and then to Addis Ababa where, they thought, life would be much more attractive than their drab country life in Alemtena . But as soon as they reached Addis, life turned out to be awfully hard, many days without food, no home to go to, and no future. Then they came down to Nazareth where nothing better came to their lives. They roamed the streets of Nazareth for several months and finally, Abbu Biru met some of the staff from “Remember the Poorest Community” and was counsel to be reconciled with his parents. He was convinced of the uselessness of street life and was willing to go back to Alemtena and make peace with his father and mother.
He’s back in Alemtena and settled there.

 Abbu Biru
A send-off to his home town with a new and reformed life and with clothes, shoes and with a gift of love to his parents
A reconciliation ceremony after arriving at his home and after being reunified with his parents and siblings in his village home
Rehabilitation Program:

This program involves those who are totally engaged on the street economically and socially, limited to living in one place, not migrating from town to town. They need to have a lot of counseling much work has to be done with them so that they reform their character. They have to be persuaded so that they begin to accept the fact that being employed in some useful activity is the best thing for their well-being. After they get this conviction, they are provided with the opportunity to be engaged in some form of self-employment.

An Illustration: Natnael Girma was born in the town of Asella, about 75 kilometers south of Nazareth (Adama). When he was about fifteen years of age, he and his buddy contrived how to leave Asella and come to Nazareth which, they thought, was a much more pleasant place to live work and live in. So, they sold a couple of Natnael’s parents’ sheep and with the money they came to Nazareth and squandered it on drinking alcoholic beverages, chewing “chat” (an addictive type of leaf), etc. Their money was gone within a few days and they found themselves roaming the streets and begging for food. Later on, they even started engaging in criminal activities. They were arrested and imprisoned a few times. After coming out of prison the last time, Natnael found street life unbearably hard. Finally, however, he met people from “Remember the Poorest Community” who advised him to change his ways and gave him seed money to start polishing shoes and selling a few items. He became such a hardworking young man that he became an assistant to a truck-driver. Now he is a proud fellow, actively and gainfully employed.
A start up micro business initiative as a peddler and as a shoe-shine boy and engaged in different activities to get livelihood income


Kedija Abedella, a former street girl with her child, now she sells
some items after she has rehabilitated by RPC

Detailed Activities of Street children program.
1. Personal Hygiene
1. Shower Facilities
3. Soap
3 Hair oil/Paraffin
5. Shower Sanitation Materials
2. Nutrition and Food Facillitiess
1. Breakfast
2. Lunch
3. Dinner
4 Food Facilities (Grain:Teff, Wheat…)
5. Meals on Holydays
Celebration Gathering
6. Nutrition/Food for Sick Children
3. Accommodation for Peer Housing/
Domestic Assistance
1. House/ Temporary Shelter rent
2. Kitchen utilties
3. Bed 4.Mattress
4. Social Development
1. Recreation Trip
2. Educational Visitaion
3. Sport Comutation
4. Organizing foot ball, drama,
music & literature Club
5. Advocacy and Awareness raising
5.1. Advoccy
1 Media coverage
2. Workshop for Guardians
3. Street Drama
4. IEC production
5.2. Awareness
1. Community Committee Meeting
2. Workshop for Community
3. Workshop for Police
4. Workshop for NGOs and CBOs
5. Staffs training & workshop
6. Hall rent for W/S&T
6. Counseling and Guidance
1. Initial Counseling
2. Group Voc Guidance
3. Assertive Training
4. Couseled Children
-Accordance to -Tutorial Class
performance – School
7. Reunification
1. Reunify Children in Adama
2. Reunify Children out of Adama
3. Reunify Children Support
8. Reintegration
1. Need Assessment
2. Vocational skill Training
3. Micro Business Startup capital
4. Wage Employed
9. Monitoring and Evaluation
1. Baseline survey
2. Ongoing Monitoring
3. Mid term evaluation
4. Final evaluation