Case studies

Access to education: Jimiyu’s story

Published 09/12/2023 By Eleanor Hughes

Supporting street children in Kenya with the Austin Bailey Foundation

In 2022, the Austin Bailey Foundation kindly granted £1,000 to the Consortium for Street Children to purchase books and other educational materials at our project with Regional Co-ordinating Partner Glad’s House Kenya.

The project aims to increase life chances of street-connected children in Mombasa through a supplementary education programme. These children are extremely marginalised and struggle to access education for a variety of reasons – they may need to work to support themselves or their family; lack identification; be unable to afford supplementary costs such as books and uniform, among a number of other reasons.

The Austin Bailey Foundation helped to reduce this financial burden on street-connected children and their families by allowing Glad’s House to purchase books and other educational materials that are then free for children, their teachers, and the local community to use. This grant has helped CSC to further its three core aims in working with street-connected children – that they are safe, have access to essential services, and feel like they belong in their community. The materials help to enroll and keep the children in school, as they do not have to worry about finding the money to purchase their books – keeping them in a safe space and with the necessary support to access education. Inviting the local community to utilise the materials, also helps to challenge negative stereotypes about street children and foster a greater sense of belonging within their communities.

Jimiyu’s* Story

Jimiyu*, 11, started sleeping in different homes and begging for food in the community following the death of his father, the breadwinner in the family. This pushed his mother into depression and eventually alcoholism, causing her to neglect Jimiyu and his siblings. None of the children progressed with their education following their father’s death. 

Picture for illustrative purposes only

While Jimiyu never slept on the streets, he relied on them while begging for food, money, and a place to sleep; and the community’s patience was wearing thin with his behaviour and attempts to sleep in their homes, which put him at a higher risk of ending up on the streets 24/7.  

Street Workers at Glad’s House Kenya noticed Jimiyu hanging around their sports facility and began to follow up to understand his patterns, and eventually invited him to the organisation’s safe space to further understand his needs. This proved more difficult than usual as Jimiyu didn’t trust the workers and would often lie, and while they traced his mother she could not provide much constructive information. He had been alone for a long time and neglected by the community as well as his mother, which made him hesitant to express himself and trust others. 

Glad’s House workers began by addressing the boy’s physical needs. He was weak and malnourished, and they realised he had been suffering from bilharzia (Schistosomiasis) for a long time. Glad’s House provided Jimiyu with three daily meals, a place to sleep, and treated his bilharzia, as they worked to build trust. 

The team made a breakthrough by engaging Jimiyu in more sports and education activities, which helped him to open up more and engage with peers. By meeting his physical needs, working on his emotional needs, and ensuring his mother was present for case meetings in the safe space, Jimiyu began to trust the Street Workers with information about his life and experiences. 

It became clear that he had fallen far behind in schooling, and was unable to write anything, including his name. Once his health started to improve and he felt safe with Glad’s House, they enrolled him in catch up lessons. At first, Jimiyu struggled to settle in class and would roam around during class time. However, he began to demonstrate positive changes after all staff at the centre, including sports coaches and street and social workers, remained involved in his life and encouraged him to continue with his catch up classes so that he could enrol in mainstream education.  

Jimiyu can now read short sentences made up of three letter words, and is enjoying learning and making new friends. There is still a little way to go before he can join mainstream school, but he is healthy and much more confident in playing and expressing himself, knowing that he can go to his teachers and other workers with any problems. 

If we had not met Jimiyu, he would have remained illiterate and likely on the streets full-time, where he would have been even more vulnerable to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Now, though Glad’s House are working with the whole family to try and ensure Jimiyu and his mother can stay together. He is able to be a child and is looking forward to progressing with his education.  

*Name has been changed