We’re working to tackle the root causes of children living and working on the streets of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. We’re also supporting mothers’ cooperatives – a proven method of combating household poverty.
Helping impoverished families to provide for themselves
Three quarters of Zambia’s population are estimated to live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. This poverty pushes children from poor families onto the streets. Here in Zambia, the number of street children has been increasing over the last 20 years because children have been orphaned by AIDS. Once children run away (or are thrown out) to the streets, the dangers to their health, welfare and education are serious.
The most effective solution is to support children and their families before they’re lost to life on the streets. Most families desperately want to provide for their children, give them a better life and make sure they get a proper education. But they themselves lack the education or skills that enable them to earn enough money to support their family with the basic necessities like food, clothing and access to an education.
What we’re doing
To have a long-term impact with far-reaching solutions in Lusaka, we concentrate on:
- Preventing child victims of abuse escaping to the streets by teaching them about their rights and how they can report abuse or neglect.
- Keeping vulnerable children out of the temptations of street gangs and other anti-social behaviours by running football sessions in the community.
- Teaching children still at school about the dangers of street life through our Street Life Training.
- Engaging children already on the streets with our Mobile Street Life Training programme.
- Helping impoverished families to provide for themselves by promoting self-help cooperatives amongst mothers in poor communities. See our special highlight below.
- Creating support networks through peer mentoring to prevent feelings of isolation and despair.
- One-to-one support from community workers throughout to make sure our help is adapted to each individual.
Special highlight on the Mothers’ Cooperatives
Our ‘Hand-in-Hand’ project prevents ‘at risk’ children from turning to the streets, by supporting Mothers’ cooperatives in Lusaka.
Our highly successful model works as follows:
- Vulnerable mothers are encouraged to form self-help groups in their communities. Members receive training on financial management and business skills from local staff. The staff monitor their progress and help mothers use their profits to provide for their children. Members also learn skills in household management, gardening, family nutrition and hygiene.
- Each week, each group member pays approximately £2 into a general pot, which also contains ‘seed money’ that we’ve contributed to help get each scheme off the ground. The general pot is split between group members, usually as capital for small businesses. The loan is then repaid with interest back into the general pot.
- The process rotates amongst all the group members until everyone has received a loan. After six months the balance is divided equally between the 25 members and the process repeats.
This intervention has been impacting families and their children for the past 10 years, recently receiving national recognition and the endorsement of the Zambian First Lady. More recently, three groups have worked together to buy equipment to set up a sausage-making business.