Kisumu has moved a notch higher into ensuring the city is free of children living on the streets.
According to research done by 11 organizations in Kisumu 90 per cent of this street children have a traceable background.
Under Kisumu Street Children Rehabilitation Consortium, the organizations have collectively rescued and re-integrated 645 children from the streets since 2019.
According to consortium’s chairman Chris Page, some the kids have been taken through counseling and enrolled into trainings as a way of keeping them off the streets.
Page noted that from the Kisumu Quarterly Street Census, there was a 10.4 percent increase in the overall street population from February 2021 to February 2022.
“The census counted 116 children sleeping on the streets, an increase of 16 children mounting to 16 percent increase,” he disclosed.
Since Corona pandemic kicked in the organizations have successfully integrated 421 children to their homes and families.
Vincent Ochieng of St.Philip Neri Rehabilitation Centre, a member of the consortium outlined family centric issues as the major factor pushing children to the Streets.
According to Ochieng divorce, polygamy, cultural traditions, incest, parental death, child neglect, gender favoritism and out-of-wedlock births are among the major contributors to street-connected-life.
To counter the growing numbers, Ochieng said there is need for community sensitization.
“It is sad that a number perceive them as lesser people, if they are to be handled well, we must change the people’s mindset,” he said.
He further called upon the county government to work with the organizations as they put in sensitization forums with parents and children.
Philip Nyangara from Kisumu Urban Apostolate Program (KUAP) expressed concerns over health risks that the children face.
Among them being Malaria, Cholera, Typhoid, HIV and STIs as sexual violence also being a major threat.
Nyangara noted that in 2021, two youths died from mob justice adding that there is a negative perception from the community that bars the integration mission.
He urged the community to join in this noble mission and help find these children’s families.
The consortium has since rolled out feeding programs, free medical care advocacy and enforcement of laws restricting the sale of hazardous substances to children.
Agape Children’s Ministry, Blue Cross, Homeless of Kisumu, Jijenge Youth Organization and Department of Children Services (DCS)-Kisumu Central among others form the consortium.