Menu Street Kids (4)
Who are street children?
Street children are defined by different organisations as children who live on the streets, children who work on the streets and children who spend the majority of their time on the streets. The children who live on the streets have either been forced to leave their home, a children's home or have made their own decision to live on the streets rather than at home. Sadly, some children are born on the streets and grow up knowing the street as their only home. Street Kids Direct identify any child or young person under the age of 18 years who sleeps regularly on the street, as a street child. There are also many more children at 'high risk' of becoming street children and these include children who work on the streets, children begging on the streets and children who spend most of their time on the streets because of their family situation or culture.
How many are there?
The truth is, nobody knows. Because street children are often changing location or are continually on the move, making an estimate based upon the experiences of local organisations that work with the children is the most reliable guide. Global estimates suggest that between 30 to 150 million children and young people live on the streets of the major cities and towns in the world. It is suggested that the numbers of street children increase or decrease depending upon local conditions. For example, prior to the 1991 Gulf War, there were no reported street children in Iraq; with the ongoing conflict, UNICEF is alarmed by the growing numbers of orphans on the streets ( UNICEF press release, 13 June 2003).
Do they have families?
Nearly all street children have some form of contact with a family member. Sadly, most children don’t maintain any contact with their family because of the circumstances that pushed them onto the streets in the first place. Poverty, physical abuse and sexual abuse, are the three main reasons street children give as to why they have ended up living on the streets. Predominantly, boys claim to have been physically abused whilst girls claim to have been sexually abused before leaving home. Sometimes the pressure of poverty, together with social vulnerability and exclusion, increase the likelihood of young children joining the population of street children worldwide.
Does gender matter?
Many projects working with street children contend that the ratio of boys to girls on the streets is in favour of boys. The exact percentage is often difficult to estimate, as one country or even city can be different from another. The experience that Duncan Dyason has had working with street children in Guatemala has shown that about 20-30% of children and young people living on the streets are girls. The girls are more likely to be sexually exploited than boys and sometimes are less visible than boys on the streets.
Is street life dangerous?
Once a child begins to live on the streets, they very soon realise that life is short, violent and perpetuated by crime. In Latin America the problem is particularly acute with the worst offenders being Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras. The average life expectancy of a street child is just four years. Some organisations have spent years highlighting the torture and killing of street children. Ask any group of street children about violence and they will tell you story after story of children who are regularly beaten by police or security guards, together with those who have lost their lives in fights, petty crime, traffic accidents or have been killed by vigilante groups and death squads.
How do they live?
Reports from those working with street children illustrate the fact that the vast majority (83%) said they stole in order to live. Over a third said they engaged in prostitution and, of that third, 80% were girls. The rest claimed that begging, selling sweets or singing on buses gave them enough income to buy food and drugs. (see Tierney, N., 1997, Robbed of Humanity, USA, Pangaea) Street children are easily observed in cities wearing dirty clothes, ripped or no shoes, and have lice-infested hair and dirty skin. Often they are seen in groups, as being part of a group offers protection as well as company. The abuse of solvents and other drugs is prevalent in the street child population, with the cheapest form of drug being the most commonly used. For example, in Guatemala, street children abuse clinical alcohol which is poured into a rag and then inhaled. Previously street children in Guatemala abused the potent shoe glue, which was poured into small plastic bags or containers and then inhaled. According to the children, the drugs help them forget the pain of street life, take away hunger pains and keep them warm. The truth is that drug abuse destroys the nervous system and has led to many deaths. But despite this, street children abuse drugs and solvents on a daily basis.
WHERE THE MONEY GOES
Radio Christmas is a project of Street Kids Direct, a Registered UK charity. The charity is unique in that it is an online charity run entirely run by volunteers. This means we can guarantee that 100% of all our donations go directly to the projects we partner with in Central America.
Our focus has always been to help rescuer children from the streets and work to prevent more children taking to the streets. The work is often very challenging, but seeing the impact that your donations make in the life of a child is heart-warming. We hope you will have time to read one or more of the stories below.
CHILDREN ON THE STREETS
When the charity's Director and Founder, Duncan Dyason MBE, moved to Guatemala in 1992 there were an estimated 5,000 children living on the streets (statistic from Casa Alianza). After 27 years working on the streets on Guatemala City, there are no longer any children living alone on the streets. The boy in the photo on the right is called Jonathan and he was the last child we rescued off the streets in 2017. Most of our street work today is focussed on surveying the streets for new children and rescue them before they become acclimatized to street life and to help those adults who are living on the streets to leave or stay alive.
The majority of our funding is focussed on keeping vulnerable street-connected children off the streets. We do this by identifying those most at risk and offering them the support of a caring mentor in their life, the opportunity to go to school, medical support and access to a mentoring centre.
STORIES OF CHANGED LIVES
Sergio is in his early 20’s and is currently living in a drug rehabilitation home. He has been alone in this world since his mother died when he was just 10 years old. As a teenager he ended up living on the streets of ‘La Terminal’ in Guatemala City and began taking drugs. It is unclear which came first but the two go hand in hand quite often.
As a charity we became involved in his life over five years ago and have seen him leave the streets and return there more than once.
Despite all he has suffered Sergio is a delightful and caring young man. He wants to study and learn and has dreams of becoming a pilot. However, the draw of the drugs and streets have repeatedly had a strong hold over him. Our SKD Guatemala street team has supported him and been consistent in his life through several stints in rehab and several relapses. Last time he left rehab the team found him a good job and a room of his own, they supported him and helped him, but unfortunately a few drinks after work with friends lead to him spiralling and back on the streets.
Thankfully this is not the end of his story as the street team were able to place him in another rehab and he is doing fantastically well. He is finally getting the psychological help he needs to find the root of his addiction and work through the trauma in his past.
The street team is already working on a plan for when he leaves where he will continue to be supported throughout his recovery. It is through your donations that the street team can be so present in the lives of people like Sergio and continue to support them and help them leave the streets.
Damaris is a lovely 14-year-old girl who has been transformed through the work of SKD Guatemala.
Damaris is the oldest of five children in her family and when we first met her over four years ago she was very shy, with next to no self confidence and low self-worth. She, along with her younger siblings, was often subjected to a father who would drink and then come home and beat their mother.
Street Kids Direct have been able to support her and her family in lots of ways, including rest bite in the "Casa Alexis" Protection Home. Through the SKD mentoring centre and mentoring programme Damaris and her whole family have been helped and supported. All five of the children are in school or nursery and are doing really well.
Just four years ago Damaris could not read or write and now her school grades are consistently in the high 90’s-100%. She used to shy away from people and would say ‘I can’t’ a lot when new activities or experiences were presented. Since then, we have seen her come out of her shell, laughing with her peers and taking on leadership roles in the centre. We have also seen her learn to ride a bike and take on challenges like high rise obstacle courses. This year Damaris achieved her dream of being in the school band and did a great job. As a charity we have even been able to help her father seek help for his drinking problem. Transformations like these can’t happen without your support and donations, so thank you.
Juan Carlos is 14 years old and lives alone with his mother. This past year has been a difficult one for him. His mother suffers with depression and they have very little in the way of material wealth.
Earlier in the year Juan Carlos stopped going to school and decided he didn’t want to have a mentor anymore. His attendance at the centre dropped and we were all very concerned for him. Thankfully through persistence and hard work from our team Juan Carlos started to come back to the centre and even started to help out with activities and the younger children. The team were able to encourage him back into regular school attendance and get him the help he needed to catch up. His servant heart and desire to help others is evident and there has been an obvious transformation in his life over the past few months.
His home situation has not changed but his attitude has. He has matured and been able to grow through the genuine love and consistency of positive adults in his life through the work of SKD Guatemala. We were so pleased in October this year when he graduated from primary school. This was a great achievement due to ther fact thatearlier this year he was barely even going to school! The support of organisations like Global Care and individuals who donate make these amazing life transformations in children here in Guatemala possible.
TEXT RADIO CHRISTMAS AND MAKE A £1 DONATION TODAY
Thank you for your interest in texting Radio Christmas. By doing so you will be able to make a £1.00 donation to the charity as well as use it to send us messages, request songs or ask for a shout-out (this text service is only available in the UK).
Your text will cost you £1, plus your standard network rate. All texts will be charged regardless of whether you entered the key word KIDS before you message. Starting your message with KIDS means the message and the £1 donation comes directky to us.
Thank you so much as your donation rewally will impact the life of a vulnerable child this Christmas and throughout 2020.
SPONSOR A CHILD all year round.
We offer different opportunities for you to sponsor a child in either Guatemala and help make a difference all year round.
For many years Radio Christmas and Street Kids Direct have partnered with Global Care in the UK to provide a sponsor a child scheme. All the children in the scheme are vulnerable children in the mentoring programme in Guatemala. Your monthly support will not only provide a child with all the care they need, but also a full-time education, counseling, a caring mentor to meet with them each week, medical checks and urgent medical help as well as access to a mentoring centre where they can enjoy being children. Global Care will provide you with an updated photo of your sponsored child, regular letters, reports and information to help you keep in touch with your child and see the progress she or he is making.
£25 month SPONSOR A CHILD
Your monthly support will help provide a vulnerable child with all they need to navigate a difficult childhood. Your sponsored child will receive a full-time education, a caring mentor in their life, medical and dental checks and daily access to the mentoring centre.
We work in partnership with GLOBAL CARE who have always dealt with our child sponsorship programme and provide sponsors with regluar updates, letters, reports and photos. When you sponsor a child in Guatemala you will begin to make a personal connection with a child and see how your child progresses and benefits from your friendship and support. Just click on the button below and select "Guatemala". For those in the US or Guatemala wishing to sponsor a child in your country, please do contact us here for more information.
£15 month SPONSOR THE PROTECTION HOME
Street Kids Direct has a short-term protection home in Guatemala City for children in need of extra support and care. GLOBAL CARE help fund the running costs of the home through the Project Partner scheme. For just £15 a month you will join others in sponsoring the cost of a bed in the home and will then receive information throughout the year about who benefitted from staying in that bed.
The Protection Home is a safe haven for many at-risk children. For some, only a night or a few days of extra support or proection are needed. For others a stay of up to two weeks is possible or we offer to the children in the mentoring programme a reward scheme to have sleepovers in the home with their friends for good school grades and conduct.