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Despite the introduction of free and compulsory primary education in 2003, the number of street children in Nairobi remains almost unchanged. Key contributing factors include the lack of teachers, inadequate school infrastructure and textbooks, overcrowding (up to 120 pupils per class), the high cost of uniforms and stationery and the loss of family income once a child is enrolled. The majority of street children who did enroll in 2003 have since dropped-out citing the lack of rehabilitation services prior to their enrolment and the unsupportive attitude of teachers.
In recognition of the fact that a period of rehabilitation for a street child is absolutely essential if family and school reintegration is to succeed, PKL will continue to enroll 100 street girls (the maximum capacity of the centre), from 5 to 12 years of age, each year into an intensive 10-month rehabilitation project at its residential centre in Ngoliba. During this period they will acquire the social and academic skills vital for successful reintegration. Activities will include:
In order to expedite the process of selecting girls for enrollment in the rehabilitation centre, PKL, in addition to its Social Workers identifying girls directly from the streets, as well as receiving referrals from other NGOs and District Children’s Departments, must devise an effective system whereby children held in government remand homes can be released by the courts to its care.
In order to ensure long-term economic self-reliance, PKL will assist the street girls’ adult family members through the provision of in-kind business loans and enrolment in one- to two-year skills training courses. Upon graduation, PKL will assist them to secure attachments, employment or provide them with loans to purchase equipment and supplies (eg. sewing machines, hair & beauty equipment) to start their own businesses. Each year, PKL will offer a full-time, residential, ten-month hairdressing and beauty and life skills training course at its rehabilitation centre for 25 teenage, single mothers from the slums of Nairobi . These individuals are unable to attend conventional skills training courses since they cannot be accompanied by their babies and do not have relatives who can baby sit the child. Upon graduation, the trainees will be assisted in securing employment or provided with business loans to establish their own hair and beauty salons.
Despite the poor educational background of these individuals, PKL must explore the possibility of having its skills trainees sit an official external exam, either organized by the government or an independent examination board such as City & Guilds. PKL will assist families wishing to relocate from the slums to the rural areas, by providing housing loans (and grants on a case-by-case basis) and negotiating with relatives to provide land. PKL will also assist family members access free birth control methods in order to assist them better manage the size of their families and will provide continuous counselling during home visits on key topics such as family planning, breast feeding, nutrition, child rights, HIV/AIDS and drug abuse. PKL will, through its HIV/AIDS outreach project (see Section 8.5 below), support its beneficiaries living with HIV/AIDS through the provision of monthly food supplements, emergency household supplies, training in home-based care and referral to other organizations providing medical care and professional counseling.
Given the limited progress of the majority of PKL’s beneficiaries towards achieving sustainable economic self-reliance and the subsequent inability of PKL to disengage them from the programme, there is an urgent need to reassess the income levels within our beneficiary families (in relationship to the urban poverty line according to the government definition of a monthly income of 2,648 Kshs in Nairobi), as well as to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the impact of PKL’s business credit and skills training projects.
In recognition of the fact that over 70% of Kenya’s poor live in the rural areas and the fact that the critical lack of income-generating opportunities in these areas is one of the root causes of rural-urban migration (and by extension urban poverty, of which the existence of street children is simply one manifestation), PKL plans to support a number of small-scale, community initiatives within economically deprived rural locations, which focus on the prevention of rural-urban migration through the promotion of sustainable livelihoods.