When the project began in Lira in 2011, the main objective was to cater for all vulnerable children throughout the community; however, the overwhelming issue of street children became apparent. Paralleling this crisis is a complete lack of services for these children, and therefore Atin Afrika shifted to fill this gap. It is undeniable that street children all over the country find themselves engaging in violent situations and toxic substance abuse. At intake, the majority of the children we serve state that they frequently use substances to:
- Forget their struggles
- Eliminate pain from ailments
- Reduce their hunger
- Enable them to eat rotten food
- To stay awake in case of violence from other street children or local police
Alcohol The substances used are identified as:
- Shoe glue mixed with petrol
- Airplane fuels,
- Opium and cannabis,
- Injections and illicit brews
The adoption of this substance use is usually introduced by older members of the group, in addition to recent reports stating that local police force children to use drugs (HRW, 2014).
In efforts to discontinue substance usage and exposure to the dangers of street life, Atin Afrika acknowledges that, it is most effective if they are removed from the dangers of street life. Therefore, the prevention method is to provide a safe, loving shelter for 20 children at a time for a period of 2-3 months as a method of isolation. Our process of taking children off the streets ensures intensive watch, tracking children’s health and nutrition, as well as providing a safe and caring competent social surrounding. This addresses both the pull and push factors surrounding the life of a street child, which results in high-levels of substance usage.
Therefore, through conducting our street children rehabilitation program, we have witnessed the dire need for targeted strategies for street children. These children are extremely vulnerable to poor health, HIV/AIDS, mental health challenges, and are channeling themselves down a path of destruction. It is this cycle we aim to break, and are moving forward with the Mitigation to target the most at-risk street children.
As Atin Afrika embarked on serving the needs of this very large and vulnerable street children population, we discovered rehabilitation mechanisms and tools, which enabled us to tackle the situation. We believe that children should not be institutionalized. Our primary goal for street children is resettlement into their home communities with access to education. Therefore, we identify children living
on the streets, provide rehabilitation services, resettle them within their families, and sponsor their education as the table shows below: