First of all, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us. Now can you tell us how you became a street educator?
Kevin: When I was young, I always tried to get involved in activities with street-connected children here in Eldoret, such as the celebration of the International Day for Street Children. It was there that I developed an interest and learned more about the reality of these kids. I then took on a course on social work, and afterwards I was able to get involved in the work of the Inuka Network.
Faith: I always had a passion to help the street families here in the city. When I walked through town, I always noticed them lying down on the side of the road. Their life is very hard, especially during the rainy season. One day I saw a pregnant woman on the street with 2 little children. I went to my church and talked with my pastor about her, so we organised ourselves to help her out. Almost by coincidence I shared the stories from our actions with the church with the CEO of the Inuka Network, and that’s how I got involved.
Marklaud: I was volunteering for 8 years at an organisation called Beruham. It was there I learned how to spend time with the kids. At first, a lot of people thought I was crazy because I was interacting with these guys, but soon they realized I was helping these kids. Many of the kids I worked with have changed now. However, there is still a big need for those who are still on the streets, since they really need someone they can talk to and who can support them.
So how does the week of a street educator look like?
K, F, M: There are of course several activities we do. On Monday we have a strategic planning day with meetings. We then also change the panels for our mobile school. From Tuesday on, we do outreach and field visits during which we interact with the children. We take out our mobile school to the streets and allow the children to learn and discuss on different topics such as health, hygiene, drug use, life skills and so on. We also conduct activities in the Rescue Center where children are coming who already indicated they want to leave the streets. Often, we also reintegrate children back home. We follow-up with the ones we already reintegrated to make sure they are safe within the family, so they won’t return to the streets. You can say the job of a street educator involves a lot of different tasks!
How do the StreetSmart materials contribute to your work as a street educator?
K, F, M: The StreetSmart materials raise an interest in the child to start learning again and to go back to school. It has really helped our children not only to open up, but also to start their learning journey again. Some of them have never been enrolled in formal school and they think it’s very difficult. They are afraid of learning. However, at mobile school they see they are able to do things, which boosts their self-esteem, so they start to believe in themselves again. It also makes them think to go back home. Through mobile school, we can talk with them in a playful way about different topics, like for example family matters. This way, the mobile school really helps to initiate a reflection process and to take the first steps towards change. It also helps us to identify any new arrivals on the street so we can start to see where they come from and how we can support them.
And why is it so important to do street work in Eldoret?
K, F, M: A lot of children from different cities and towns come to Eldoret because they are more comfortable staying here. If you would compare the numbers to the other cities in the region such as Kakamega, Kitale, Nakuru or Kisumu, you will notice that a lot of children end up here on the streets of Eldoret. Since the number of children on the streets is high over here, it’s crucial to reach out to them to build a relationship with them, to show them we care about them, so they feel this love and compassion. This way, we can take care of their daily issues – personal issues, medical issues – in order to make a difference in their lives.
Why is it in 2022 still important to celebrate the International Day for Street Children?
Kevin: Personally, I think it’s still extremely important to have a day like this. We are celebrating the IDSC in Eldoret since 2012. It’s a special day where we acknowledge the rights of street children and raise awareness in the community. A street kid is not just a street kid, they are human beings, and there are clear rules and laws everyone needs to respect. It’s this message we want to spread on this day, so these children feel valued and empowered. If we teach them about their rights, they feel like they will own something, and no one can disrespect or harm them without any consequence.
Marklaud: Most of the time, communities still treat the children badly, they mostly see them as criminals, thieves, robbers and so on. We want to turn around this negative perception! Slowly but surely, the community here starts to see more positive things in them, which is extremely important in the work we do.
Faith: It’s also about boosting the self-esteem of these kids, and the IDSC is a day to show this to the world. Often, they feel like no one wants to be with them. We want to show them the opposite, not only today but every day. We are here for them!
Learn more about the Inuka Network:
Learn more about the International Day for Street Children: https://www.streetchildren.org/idsc/international-day-for-street-children-2022/