Street children in Africa
In many African cities and urban areas, children are at risk of being abandoned and becoming street children. It is estimated that tens of millions of children worldwide are street children (UNICEF) and many of these children can be found in African towns and cities. In Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for example up to 100,000 street children can be found living on the streets.
Children in Africa live on the streets for many reasons: they may be orphaned or abandoned, they may have been abused and ran away, they may have been neglected or felt unwanted by their families. In all of these cases, an already traumatic experience is worsened by the reality of a child having to fend for itself on the street, to have to survive the day-to-day struggles which many children couldn't imagine.
When a child is forced onto the streets in Africa, the situation can be hopeless. Street children lack the care and support that allows normal children to thrive. Without the care of their parents, these children will often go without any form of formal education, will lack proper access to healthcare and will face many social and psychological disadvantages.
Abuse of drugs and substances is common, and with the quality and constitution low or unknown, they can be potentially very dangerous. Street children turn to drugs to relieve the pressures of being on the streets or to endure the hunger, violence or pain they face daily.
If street children grow up into adulthood, their chances of developing a stable life and family are bleak. Without the skills and stability that come from a normal childhood, finding and keeping jobs is extremely difficult; so for a lot of former street children, a life of poverty awaits.
Our charity and street children in Africa
Our Family Strengthening Programmes target children and families at risk of being broken up. The programmes aim to keep families together by supporting families where they need help. We help to keep children at risk of becoming street children off the streets by keeping families together.
Our SOS Children's Villages also take in children who have been abandoned or orphaned, giving them a loving home away from the dangers of living on the streets.