Atin Afrika is a sincere community-driven organization that garners immense in-kind support and guidance from the local environment. We believe effective change must come from the community. Moreover, when working with street children and youth, it is imperative to engage successful youths who have faced similar circumstances to provide inspiration and instill agency among the street children. Therefore, specific activities ensuring youth and community involvement are listed below:
1. During street visits, Atin Afrika has faced some challenges with identifying and convincing children and youths to leave their street life, largely due to their history of abandonment and lack of trust. Therefore, we network with the youths who have already been through our program to reach out to current street children, sharing their success story. This serves as evidence to them that Atin Afrika is honestly helping and empowering them. Since they are well known by those currently living on the street, they have immense trust and understanding amongst each other. These resettled youths show that healthy rehabilitation and happy resettlement is truly a reality.
2. During rehabilitation and group sessions at the Atin Afrika Centre, we involve the previous successfully resettled street youths as mentors. They share the positive outcome of not using illicit substances and living in conflict with the law, testify on the changes they have encountered, and discuss how they have reached their goals.
3. We conduct needs assessments of each home where children are resettled. We specifically ask the street children to identify the caregiver they would like to live with and then seek out that individual or family. This makes the children active participants in their resettlement and also helps us to ensure that children are resettled into stable homes.
4. Engage and invite the local government stakeholders through the support of probation officers and the child protection unit of the police.
5. Work with community leaders, namely the local council, Clan leaders when resettling children so that the community is actively engaged in the process and a sense of communal responsibility for each child’s welfare can be established.
Our policies and prevention methods are in line with the international standard on drug use prevention
Family support: Using evidence-based solutions to fight the battle against substance abuse is essential for high impact. When developing Atin Afrika’s programs, we conduct rigorous analysis of successful programming and high-impact evaluation results. In this case, Atin Afrika has designed the Mitigating Substance Use Among Street Children program to amass great change in the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. The types of evidence based prevention interventions we employ are:
Prevention education based on personal and social skills and social Influence: Based on the international standards of drug prevention, it is recommended that interactive school-based programs facilitate the prevention of substance use among children and youths long-term. In relation to Atin Afrika Foundation’s education program, we have been able to integrate children and youths into schools, which has occupied them with better social influence related to substance use.
We will continue to use this approach by:
a. Encouraging and sponsoring children in schools
b. Encourage commitment to school hence reducing the high rate of school dropout, exposure to dangers and substance access to children and youths.
Addressing individual psychological vulnerability: By the use of our psychosocial programs, Atin Afrika tackles the major problems of hopelessness, impulsivity, emotional instability and anxiety problems among the street children. These emotional problems are found most in children under substance use.
We have and will continue to motivate, encourage, and instil self-belief through:
a. Involving substance using street children in creative activities
b. Provide recreational activities, such as sports and other games to street children
c. Providing group discussions with former street and current / recent street children
d. One on one interactions with psychologists and social workers focusing on psychological, emotional issues of each individual child
Mentoring: Atin Afrika emphasizes the importance of mentoring through Mitigating on Substance Use, through sensitizing on the dangers of streets life, HIV AIDS and many other social problems Among Street Children. This mentorship helps youth learn how to tolerate uncomfortable feelings without using substances. Atin Afrika foundation always initiates and encourages members of the community to interact and create social relationships with the street children.
a. Involve the older youth who have already been resettled by Atin Afrika foundation to mentor to those still under substance use and are on the streets
b. Initiate and encourage interaction groups for children living on the streets
c. Build activities that involve street children, resettled youth and community members (i.e. Sports and other recreational activities).
Community-based multi-component initiatives: At Atin Afrika foundation we believe the community is integral to the process of change and transformation of the children and youths engaging in substance use. We have worked with all local stakeholders, including the local council members, media, schools, district probation, child protectorate of police department, among others. All these members have helped us to address the factors of children/youths under substance use and living on the streets. We leverage this support and multifaceted approach to highlight street children engaging in substance use, and those still toiling under street life exposure through:
a. Creating task forces to address community-level advocacy for the prevention of substance use among street children
b. Mobilization of teams to advocate for substance use prevention and treatment for children living on the streets, and for those residing in the Atin Afrika Centre.
c. Initiating community-level campaigns to help generate awareness of the dangers of street life to a child
d. Encouraging and training stakeholders on the best intervention procedures
Brief Intervention: We endeavor to bolster our one-on-one counseling sessions with children living on the streets and are not able to join our center full-time. This will be delivered by our trained health and social workers after the street child has been identified, and will also incorporate follow-up visits. These youths do not have access to treatment programs, but can receive immediate basic counseling and referrals to the local hospital.
Media Campaigns: One of the best and easiest ways to sensitize and create awareness on the dangers of street children using substances is, through media systems (Radio, Television, Newspaper). Radios are owned by every homestead in rural and urban areas. We involve the youths who will spear head the discussions, mentoring and share testimonies.
Therefore, Atin Afrika:
a. Engages with local radio stations to hold talk shows and provide avenues for recovered street children to tell their success stories.
b. Place posters in areas like town centers where street children are known to reside. These will create awareness on the dangers faced by street children, provide coping strategies, and refer to places for support, including Atin Afrika.
c. We plan to launch a Photo and Video Voice activity among the resettled and yet to be resettled youth. We will ask youth in our program to show the world what it means to forget substance use, and show how they lead happy and healthy lives despite their past and current struggles. These photos and videos will be shared on social media, via e-mail and placed on the Atin Afrika website for sharing among other projects. We will publish our process of engaging in the Photo/Video voice and encourage other projects to do the same. In this way diverse stories can be shared globally, and remind street children that they are not alone in this struggle.