“Before I left, I was always fighting with my mother and sister. Being at home was chaotic. I was constantly being scolded. If I had done something wrong, like forgetting to finish a chore, my mother would shout at me and beat me.”
At just 13 years old, Nadia left her home in Mombasa, Kenya, for a life on the streets. Risks are everywhere for girls on the streets. They face sexual exploitation, rape and violence.
“People would fight all the time. If you try to stop them, you get beaten up in the process. One time, a group were fighting. When I tried to intervene, I got cut with a machete. I thank God I am still alive.
I never had enough money to buy food. Sometimes people around me had food, and I had to sit and watch them because I didn’t have anything to eat. Often, I wandered around at night. I was hungry a lot. I was harassed and beaten up. I feel sad and scared when I think about it.”
Life on the streets is dirty, violent and short.
Children are forced to grow up far too quickly. Most children survive on ‘keroma’, waste food which they pick up from cafe bins and dumpsites. With nobody to turn to, and no safe space to shelter, street-connected children end up taking drugs to mask their traumas.
Girls, like Nadia, face even greater risks. Liz Mnengwah, Head of Programmes with our partner Glad’s House Kenya, told us that “For a girl to be living on the streets of Mombasa and not become pregnant is a miracle.”
“They begin to feel they can no longer look after their children. So, some of the mothers we meet on the streets will give their children away. They want the best for them but cannot provide for them. It’s this that hurts and traumatises them the most. But they can’t bear seeing their children suffering or going through the same suffering they went through.”
Thankfully, Nadia was found by Abdul. He’s a street outreach worker with our partner, Glad’s House Kenya.
“Abdul told me about the Support Centre, a safe place where I can get shelter and food. I like coming to Glad’s House Kenya. I am treated with respect here. They have really helped me in a big way. Now I can dress in clean clothes, eat good food, and they are teaching me to play football. I am grateful.
I feel safe here. I am happy and forget all the problems on the streets.”
Sadly, there are 3,000 children like Nadia in Mombasa who haven’t been able to find a safe space. And every day, more children join them, forced to survive the streets because they have nowhere else to go. But with no education and no way of earning money, they have no chance of a bright future.
From 30th November, we’re taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge where every donation is doubled! That means a donation of £50 would be worth £100 to us – which could fund a week’s teaching at the support centre. No child should spend Christmas on the streets. Will you please help to build a bright future for the most vulnerable children?