In October 2015, the Uasin-Gishu County government rounded up more than 200 street children and delivered them to Kakamega and Bungoma counties.
It termed the action as “returning the children where they came from”.
Furthermore, these homeless children were said to be a security threat.
The truth of the matter was that there was no place in Kakamega or Bungoma these children could call home. They were simply being transferred from one street to another.
Two years later, in June 2017, the Nairobi County Government arrested more than 400 street children and took them to police cells and various rehabilitation centres in an exercise that was termed “cleaning the city and ridding it of criminal elements”.
The aim here was not to help the street children to lead normal lives, but rather to “clean” the city of dirty elements.
The same script played out some years back when street children, perceived as eyesores, were arrested and put in confinement when the then US President Barack Obama and the Pope came visiting at different times.
When the government cut grass and collected dirt, street children were classified in this category as well. They were hence dumped somewhere — away from the visitors.
The above styles were simply pointing on what I can call “how not to deal with street children”.
We first have to understand most street children are out there owing to some unfortunate circumstances at home such as death of parents, broken marriages, abandonment, poverty, drug abuse, among other things.
It is basically lack of love and understanding that prevails in the world of these children. And it is this love and understanding that they need more.
This calls on Kenyans to approach the issue of street children with love and understanding and not force, intimidation or hatred.
In order to remove the children from the street, we must begin by showing them we love and care for them.
Let them look at those rescuing them as their friends (in a fatherly, motherly, brotherly and sisterly way); but not as tormentors.
Create an environment that makes the street children desire to be part of the rescue centre.
Furthermore, the children should be made to understand they are being taken to a place where they will be better people; and not to a place where they are going to be harassed further.
Most of them were facing various difficulties in the streets. The earlier prejudice in the society would make one believe that these children were really bad.
They are really misunderstood. We look at them as offenders rather than looking at them as our problem.
They are our problem because we need to do a lot to help them be like us.
Besides giving them material support, we need to show them a lot of love and understanding.
It is important to strive to make a change and show these children that they have invaluable worth.
These children, who are mainly seen as misfits, can easily turn to be doctors, engineers, teachers, accountants, managers, successful business people, among other careers.
This can only happen if we show them love and understanding.
Dr Mulli is the founder of Mully Children’s Family. [email protected]