Getting off the streets
Richard’s life was never easy. But when he found himself roaming around the streets of Lusaka, Zambia sniffing glue, smoking dagga and sleeping in dirty drain tunnels, he thought he would never get out of there. Until DAPP Children’s Town welfare outreach officer, Elizabeth Kandunda, met him.
Street life exposes children to violence, exploitative and hazardous labor conditions, such as sex-work and child trafficking. Children’s Town is a chance for these children to get off the streets and turn their lives around.
Children’s Town is a project implemented by DAPP Zambia with the aim of rehabilitating former street children by providing them with psychosocial support, life skills, literacy and vocational training and a reintegration program. The project also runs a community school that offers basic education from preschool to grade 9 for orphans and vulnerable children.
The program focuses on a 2-year skills training during which the students select a specific subject and are provided with a certificate at the end of the course. “This will enable them to get a job or to start self-employment. And furthermore, Children’s Town provides a good inspiration and education to the surrounding communities”, explains a member of the center’s board.
Richard was in 2013 attending Metal Fabrication and Literacy lessons. “My main hobbies are playing football and I am one of the Drama Club members. Here at Children’s Town, life has really changed me for the better. I am looking forward to complete my metal fabrication course and have a certificate that will help me to find a job or to start up my own workshop. Life in the streets has not been easy for me and I will never go back there”.
In 2014, the program will change and all the students in grade 7 to 9 will join the Practical and Theoretical Course.
Great risk of social exclusion and exploitation
Children in Zambia are at great risk of social exclusion and exploitation, mainly due to the threats of profound poverty and HIV and AIDS. According to the UN, around 20,000 children live in the streets and approximately 12% of children between 5 and 14 years are working. Zambia has about 1.25 million orphans, or one in every four children, and of those orphans about 50 percent are 10 years-old or younger.