The United Nations defined the term”street children’’ to include“any boy and girl…for whom the street in the widest sense of the word…has become his other habitual abode and/or source of livelihood,and who is inadequately protected,supervised,or directed by responsible adults. Recently, in Uyo town, there has been an increasing number of children on street begging of alms and hawking.
Against this background, Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative (SI4DEV), Uyo location group carried out a community project targeted at street children in Uyo in commemoration of the global service day. The
activity was done on 21st April,2018 at IbomPlaza,Uyo Akwa Ibom State.
The objectives of the activity were
1.To provide a child friendly platform where SI4DEV partners and volunteers can interact with the children
2.To listen and provide counselling session on dreams and goal using the dream talk and listening hub approach
3.To share a meal with children and build friendship
4.To identify contextual needs of the street children in utilizing a homegrown discussion.
A total of 54 street children;22 females and 32 males were reached. Services provided for them included counselling session which involved a one on one listening session with SI4DEV members.
Also,the dream talk session was done to help the child developmental picture of his/her dream and cultivate inspiration towards actualisation of the dream.The group shared meal with the children and establish rapport including exchanging of contact for continue interaction with the street children.
1. 40.7%of the street children were females while 59.3%were males.
2. Age bracket of the children were 10–18years with mode age of12.
3. 22%of the children are currently out of school.
4.38.9%of the children live alone and feed themselves hawking of water, cartoon and snacks, 2% pick money while the rest 59.1% live with a guardian/ poor parent under a harsh condition (child has to sell to bring money for food).
5.Some of the places they sleep or use for shelter completed buildings, bushes,under the bridges,stores and plaza.
6.11.1%have been involved in unprotected sex with no knowledge on condom use; 3 of the girls confessed to have been raped on severally occasions. Some of the girls sell sex for N500 for a night to make money.
7.Some health complaints were persistent head ache ,skin rashes,pain on the leg,stomach pain,itching eyes and fatigue. We observed body and mouth odour as common challenge among them.
8.Most important needs were:clothing,shelter,education(money for school fees,school materials,and text books),vocational skills.Some of the children requested provision of fund or job for their parents to meet their needs while child-headed need job to feed for their siblings.
9.7.4%were involve in substances abuse.
On future dream,some children don’t have any idea of theirs of goal but were concerned with selling .While others had a dream of their future career. These included Doctor(11), Engineer(7), Banker(5), Supermarket owner(3), Lawyer(2), Musician (1), Nurse (2), Pastor(2), Policeman(1), President of Nigeria(1), Governor(1), Scientist(1), Journalist(1), Fashion Designer(1), Solider(1), farmer(1), football player(1), teacher(1), shoe producer(1), Actress(1).
11.The street children requested the government;
Provide shelter and home for street children.
Provision of food for their survival.
Send them back to school and make the free education ‘free’as they requested to pay for textbooks and other duties.
Government to sponsor talents among them such as music and shoe making.
One of the respondent said “government should take us out of the street”
Provide scholarship for students.
Provision of vocational centres
Using the social media platform,awareness of the dire need of the street children was created.
Interaction with the street children has helped to boost self-esteem as they found ‘friends’ to listen to them.
The outreach has debunked the myth that’s true do not exist in the Akwa Ibom State.
Develop database and profile of street children
Develop an advocacy plan to engage stakeholders on street children intervention.
Plan an integrated project for street children during the children’s day celebration
Establish a dream and health club for street children in Uyo.
Train Volunteers on provision of child friendly services for street children.
Street children are found in small groups thus intervention should be done location by location.
The best time to meet street children is in the night by 7pm when they have returned from their work.
We should make provision to address more need of the children such as clothes,sanitary pads,medication,etc.
Oral hygienic should be prioritized amongst to children.
Intervention among them should be continuous to develop bonding and mutual trust.
There is need to establish dream and asexual education clubs among them.
The use of the cohort session guide provided an opportunity to elicit responses from street children for future program.