Samuel* and his mother came to the streets of Nairobi after experiencing a series of hardships, ultimately leaving them homeless. There, they met street workers from Glad’s House, who helped the family work through their problems and ensure Samuel could stay in education.
After losing a child, and separating from Samuel’s father, his mother developed depression, which led to an addiction to alcohol. As a result, she was unable to pay rent and provide meals for her and Samuel, which led to relying on friends’ houses for refuge before ultimately ending up on the streets. They would receive food parcels from well-wishers in the streets, but no support with shelter or schooling. At 13, Samuel was in danger of dropping out of education because the family were often living too far away from his school.
When street workers from Glad’s House Kenya met Samuel and his mother, they invited the family to Glad’s House’s safe space, where they could assess the family’s situation. During this assessment they learned about the mother’s difficulties, and that she sometimes left Samuel alone to perform commercial sex. When speaking to Samuel, it was evident that the family’s situation has significantly affected the child. He would become emotional during discussions, and it took him a long time to start making friends.
After following up with Samuel’s school, street workers learned about his struggle to remain in education, and that he had not been in school for some time. Samuel was in real danger of dropping out of education, which would pull him further into street-connectedness in order to survive.
With the help of teachers, social workers, and coaches at Glad’s House’s safe space, Samuel and his mother agreed an action plan which would support Samuel’s schooling. At the point of this meeting, there were just two weeks before schools closed for holidays, so Glad’s House workers had to act quickly. They conducted a school visit, where it was agreed that Samuel should continue his learning in Glad’s House’s safe space for the two weeks before school ended, travelling there just for his exams.
With Samuel’s connections to the street being relatively new, the workers at Glad’s House acted quickly to ensure he did not build strong attachments to life there. They arranged a temporary shelter for Samuel, with his mother visiting twice a week both to see her son, and engage in counselling and further support, which also increased Samuel’s confidence and co-operation with Glad’s House staff.
Now that Samuel is receiving regular meals, his health has improved. He seems happier – now engaging with sports and starting to make friends in the community. His relationship with Glad’s House staff has helped enormously with this, with teachers and coaches reporting that he appreciates being in a safe space. He also recognises that while he loves his mother, he may not be able to access shelter, food, and schooling by staying on the streets with her, and while there is still some way to go to create a stable situation for his mother, she is still engaging with Glad’s House support programmes and working with them to ensure proper schooling for Samuel.
About Glad’s House Kenya, CSC network member and StreetInvest (now part of CSC)’s Regional Coordinating Partner for East Africa
Glad’s House Kenya (GHK) has been a leading local NGO in Mombasa for almost 15 years, established in 2006 to work with street-connected children and young people aged up to 30 years old.
GHK is an influential voice at the local level, sitting as an expert advisor in different governmental committees for children’s services. GHK specialises in supporting children and young people deemed too ‘challenging’ for other programmes because of their behaviours and life choices, including substance misuse, running away from home, family or school, or crime. Street Workers are trained in how to identify, build trust with and support the most marginalised children, and Street Work reaches children that other interventions do not, where they are on the street.
In 2021, Glad’s House team of 10 Street Workers supported over 500 street-connected children, including 300 boys and 200 girls. GHK conducted 246 street visits and through these reached 268 children and young people. They were able to remain active over the COVID-19 pandemic and during this time spearheaded a taskforce that has identified new challenges of street-connected children and young people (SCC&YP) and supported them throughout. Glad’s House has also engaged with 8 organisations to build the network and delivered Street Worker training to 16 staff members.
In May 2021, Glad’s House and StreetInvest, with funding from British & Foreign School Society(BFSS) began a new Inclusive Education Programme to bridge the gap in education access and outcomes for SCCYP, slum-dwelling and poor children in Mombasa.
Within the first year of the education programme, 174 out of school SCCYP children have been supported with catch-up education and 77 slum-dwelling and poor children attending public schools in the neighbourhood supported with supplementary education. The educational support provided by GHK has reduced drop-out rates among children and increased attendance by 98%, keeping more children out of the streets. The programme has also built an e-library equipped with computers to support the children learn computer skills and a physical library with study materials.
Visit Glad’s House Website to know more about their work.
*Name has been changed