By Laura Kemp •
Updated: 14 Jul 2022 • 10:15
Exclusive interview: A hopeful future for street children through Amani Centre for Street Children
With three centres dedicated to helping street children in Africa, since 2001, Amani has been a haven of peace and safety for the most vulnerable children who have been left homeless due to poverty and abuse. Amani’s goal is to change these children’s realities by creating a path for each child that leads to a future filled with hope.
Speaking with Janet Agaba, a member of staff at the Amani head office in Moshi next to the imposing Mount Kilimanjaro, she explained the process of rescuing these extremely vulnerable children: “We used to go out on the streets of these three cities every night, looking for children and speaking with children on the streets to try to find out how they have ended up homeless, and how we can change their lives around.”
“We really need more donations because the Covid pandemic hit us really hard, and we now only have the funds to go out onto the streets a few times a week. After our social workers build up a relationship of trust over time with children we find on the streets, we then bring the children to our centres to feed them, clothe them, give them a safe place to stay and – most importantly – we get them enrolled in education.”
Janet explained how, initially, these children are fearful. They do not want to engage with the social workers at first and it is extremely important to build up a trusting relationship. These children have been living in homes where they have been victims of abuse, some of the very young girls have been victims of severe sexual abuse, meaning they don’t even know how to trust adults. The patriarchal male dominance in Africa is also a huge issue for young girls. Women and girls do not get the same rights and protection, leaving them vulnerable to abuse.
The children on the streets are usually found begging for money or food, sometimes sleeping in boxes in the doorways of shops or shacks – something that is unimaginable in the rainy season. The Amani centres are used for boarding these children, not only giving them a place of safety and healing, but also a place where they have clean clothes, proper food, and access to important education so that they can thrive as adults.
To continue helping these children, Amani needs donations. Currently, there are Friends of Amani organisations in the UK, the USA, Canada, the Netherlands and Germany, who help to receive funds for Amani. The caring staff need to earn a salary and the costs of running the electricity, water and other necessities take away from the donations going towards educating the children.
Janet told us several success stories of this amazing organisation: “Last year we had four former street children graduate from university. The centre took care of them until they graduated, which is amazing to see. We now also have our first-ever former street girl in University. When we have a new child come into the centre, we fast-track their education to get them up to speed, enrol them into normal school and pay the fees. Without this, they will stay on the streets and be forced into child labour or, sometimes, worse.”
“A big factor is that we also try and contact the children’s families as we believe it is important for them to have people close to them. We offer them counselling and try to find out their cause for running away from their home or the reasons for why they live on the streets. We look for a relative they can be safe with and facilitate communication and reintegration with the family members.”
“With the children’s meals costing just $3 per day, it is easy to see how far a $20 donation could help the Amani centres and lead to the rescue of many more of these vulnerable, beautiful children.”
Please donate to Amani here
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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