The Atin shelter acts as an interim center and bridge between street and home life, providing the necessary timeline for each individual child to begin their healing journey from the trauma of street life and substance use. They reside for 2-3 months. During this 2-3-month period, we reach out to the families of the street children and do family counseling in order to bring the children and their guardian closer together. Our work does not remain in the confines of the Atin Afrika Centre. We aspire to reach beyond our walls, and make a wider impact on street and vulnerable children. Outside of the center we conduct street outreach whereby children still living on the street gain access to basic and medical care through our referral system, sensitization on the dangers of substance use, guidance and mentoring, as well as youthinitiated support groups.
Activities conducted are listed below:
- Rehabilitation and counseling
- Street visits and Identification
- Outreach activities, resettlement, reconciliation and family counseling
- Education sponsorship
- Emergency and medical care
- Psychosocial and Physiological Support
Our key activities are conducted as follows:
1. Street visits:
Our social workers conduct bi-weekly street visits to identify new street children and engage with previously identified children. These visits include one on one interaction with each child, group counseling, discussions regarding children’s rights, and the provision of emergency medical care for minor cuts and injuries sustained on the streets.
2. Rehabilitation and counseling:
Our social workers work with the children living (temporarily) at Atin Afrika Monday to Friday, providing them with counseling and guidance both as a group and on an individual basis. Together they discuss pressing issues such as substance use, HIV/AIDS, peer influence, problems at home, and conflict resolution. We also engage district officials from the child protection unit of the police and the probation office and all stake holders within the community to sensitize children on the dangers of conflicting with the law.
3. Outreach activities, resettlement, reconciliation and family counseling:
Family reunification and resettlement is the most integral part of our program. We take children off the streets and instill a sense a belonging in them. We treat each case as unique and tailor our work to the individual child. Through family mapping and interviews we work together with each child to identify the best caregiver for them to ensure that they are in a home situation where they feel safe and loved. This has been very successful and rewarding.
4. Education sponsorship:
Education is a cornerstone of our program. At Atin Afrika, we have a teacher who runs our informal education program. Our intention is to spark the child’s interest in education, build foundational skills and to examine the level of the child’s ability in school performance before being taken back to school. This is done before resettlement of the child. Lack of access to education is one of the leading push factors that result in children turning to street life. We sponsor resettled children in education; a key factor in the success of the Atin Afrika model. Children in school have hope for the future and less access to harm and toxic dangers of substances.
5. Emergency and medical care:
We have encountered many medical emergencies while working with street children. Children are exposed to violent, harmful and unhealthy situations, which drives substance use as a means of pain reduction. We liaise with numerous doctors at the main hospital who facilitate subsidized minor surgeries such as septic wounds, deep cuts, jiggers, and chronic illnesses. We also have a part time nurse practitioner that helps examine children and youths on their levels of substance consumption and many other diseases. Lastly all children at Atin Afrika are taken to the AIDS Information Centre for HIV/AIDS testing and other diseases and counseling when they are admitted into the Atin rehab center.