Building with Bamboo

Helping Street-Connected Children to Connect with Loving Relatives

Published 11/21/2017 By Alfred Ochaya

Tragedy is an occurrence that is awful. When it happens it is very important to connect children with loving relatives so that they can receive the care and love they deserve. Hassan* lived on the streets for 19 years. He lost his biological parents and didn’t know the whereabouts of his paternal relatives, he only knew where to find his maternal uncle. However, the maternal uncle had an unstable job, he was poor to the extent that he couldn’t provide his own children with all the basic needs.


Helping Street-Connected Children to Connect with Loving Relatives

Hassan couldn’t find his relatives after his parents died, this situation push him onto the streets where he engaged in a number of risky behaviours, such as drug abuse. He also work very hard while living on the streets. Street-connected children need to work very hard in order to survive, they also need to establish strong relationships with peers and other non-formal actors as they are sources of support in the face of adversity.

Social workers tasks include make interventions to reintegrate street-connected children back to their families. It is important for them to acknowledge that some cases are complex and that despite this the relationship they can build up with children is all they need to success in their work. Social workers, then, shouldn’t forget the following principle “never give up on a vulnerable child”.

Four years ago, S.A.L.V.E International conducted a research study on drug abuse in street-connected children. Our areas of interest were to find out why children decide to take drugs, where they buy them and their ideas to stop drug abuse. Our objective was also to develop recommendations for practitioners based on the study outcomes.

Seven months ago S.A.L.V.E International opened a drug rehabilitation centre to help street-connected children to stop using drugs. Hassan was in the first group of children that were identified and taken to the S.A.L.V.E’s rehabilitation centre and later on resettled to the maternal uncle’s home.


Helping Hassan to Find his Paternal Uncle

During the time Hassan was living on the streets, his uncle traced his paternal relatives, so after completing his rehabilitation process at the drug rehab centre, he was resettled to his maternal uncle who took an immediate action to help him to connect with loving relatives such as his paternal uncle.

Hassan was very excited to meet his paternal uncle as this was something he was longing for since he was a child. Currently, he is very happy and has successfully settled into his uncle’s home. He can now enjoy a sense of relief away from the hard realities of living on the streets. Hassan is glad that he found relatives who care about him and love him too.

During the BwB learning cycle 1, we developed decks that portray traits of “Obuvuumu” or Resilience and we worked a lot with the children for them to look deeper into each of these decks.  According to Hassan, the deck that talks about “learning from challenges and hard times” is so important because it taught him to work hard to survive on the streets.

Hassan is happy that his life has positively changed and appreciates the social workers and management of S.A.L.V.E International for never giving up on him. The staff’s consistence and persistence towards Hassan enabled him to connect with loving relatives he wanted to meet since we was a child. His advice for street-connected children is that “no bad condition is permanent, so never give up in life”.

*name changed to protect identity