Today marks the International Day for Street Children and, according to UN sources, there are up to 150 million street children across the world. Life on the streets is dirty, insecure, violent and short. Street children are the target of human trafficking, physical and sexual abuse, psychological harm and child labour. They may be called “street children” but the reality is, they have no childhood. Wondering where your next meal is coming from and whether you will find a safe spot to sleep at night is something no child should ever have to think about.
To raise awareness and bring about change, we are supporting the ‘4 Steps to Equality’ campaign run by the Consortium for Street Children. As member of the consortium, we are calling governments around the world to take four steps that will achieve equality for street children.
The 4 Steps to Equality summarises the UN General Comment on Children in Street Situations, which is guidance written by the United Nations to explain how governments can make sure that street children are able to access their rights – rights that many of us take for granted such as access to education, healthcare and a safe home environment.
At the moment, these children don’t get their voices heard, so it is vital that they are empowered to realise their rights. We are working with local partners across Africa to help give these children the chance of a childhood. We are making progress, but this is a huge task, and one that we cannot undertake alone.
Alessandra Podesta, one of our Programme Managers, recently returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where she met with many street children. Bikavu is one of the most dangerous and unstable areas in the whole of war-torn DRC, and here alone, there are an estimated 15,000 street children. Alessandra commented “When we visited the most deprived areas in Bikavu, I was shocked and saddened to see the number of young children , many as young as five, begging or selling items in the market. Nearly all the children I met over the age of 10 were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. One 14-year-old boy told me that he sniffs glue to help him forget about his daily struggles, ease the cold and hunger and numb the pain he feels from physical and sexual abuse. It was a truly heart-breaking encounter.”
With your help, we can spread awareness and end this vicious cycle of poverty. Please like and share posts on Twitter from both Chance for Childhood and the Consortium for Street Children, or use #streetchildrenday to raise awareness and to help give a voice to some of the world’s most forgotten children.
Find out more about what we do for street children.