In October 2008 I began a year long voluntary placement with Action for Children in Conflict, a UK based charity which works in Thika, Kenya to prevent and rehabilitate street children. Although Hazels Footprints Trust were unable to support me with my personal costs whilst volunteering, they made a kind and generous donation to Action for Children in Conflict (AfCiC) and, over the course of my placement, I was able to see this money put to extremely good use.
AfCiC work to transform the lives of vulnerable children affected by various forms of conflict or crisis. Their projects focus on helping some of the most disadvantaged, disenfranchised and socially excluded children and young people in Kenya. The children come from backgrounds of abject poverty, family breakdown and abuse. They are in conflict with the law, living and working in the streets and have little or no access to education. Many resort to substance abuse as a means of escaping the cold and hunger which pervade their daily lives.
AfCiC believes that these children and young people have the capacity to change their own lives for the better and it is the charitys role to nurture this process. AfCiC works alongside the children and young people helping to transform them into responsible individuals and productive members of their community. After all, it is these children who are the future of a developing country like Kenya.
Under their Third Aim, Hazels Footprints Trust granted £2310 to Action for Children in Conflict to be used to promote education amongst the disenfranchised children they work with. £1600 was used in to cover the salary of AfCiCs Education Empowerment Officer for one year. During this time the Education Empowerment Officer, along with other AfCiC members of staff, undertook school drop out prevention workshops in five of the most vulnerable schools in Thika. This included a school for the visually impaired, a school for physically disabled children and two schools recognised to be attended by children who are at high risk of child labour. During these workshops over 100 teachers were trained on preventing school drop out and raising awareness of child abuse. Teachers learnt to deal with children who come from impoverished and abusive backgrounds and how to recognise children who are victims of abuse. AfCiC are now planning to undertake further work to facilitate better communication between children and teachers and to work with teachers to draw up set procedures to be followed when they suspect a child is being abused.
In addition £200 was given to enable the Education Empowerment Officer and AfCiCs Interim Care Centre Teacher to undertake sign language training. AfCiC works with several children who are deaf and mute and, until Hazels Footprints Trust enabled our staff to learn sign language, we were unable to communicate effectively with them. Thanks to individual child sponsors, the children attend a boarding school especially for deaf children but now when they return to us in the school holidays we are able to provide them with the care and support they need. We have also introduced sign language classes to our School Holiday Clubs so all the other children we work with are also learning to sign.
AfCiCs Interim Care Centre (ICC) provides a residential rehabilitation programme for street boys. The Interim Care Centre provides temporary residential care to street children who have particular problems as the result of solvent addiction, family breakdown or abuse, and who cannot, for these reasons, return home immediately. We carry out intensive non-formal education, rehabilitation and family reintegration work whilst providing a nurturing, protective and structured environment. Hazels Footprints Trust gave £210 to purchase new textbooks for the ICC in order that the children can be taught the correct Kenyan curriculum to ensure their successful reintegration into the mainstream schooling system at the end of their rehabilitation.
On behalf of Action for Children in Conflict I would like to sincerely thank Hazels Footprints Trust and all the people who support the charity in their invaluable work. The money donated to AfCiC has made a significant improvement to the services we are able to offer the beneficiaries of the charity and we hope that the impact of the activities carried out thanks to the grant made by Hazels Footprints Trust will be felt for many years to come.
Image credit: thegef