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CRK's Children's and Youth Projects

CRK interventions with children are strategic parts of our 'Families for Children' initiative.

Kitale town boasts a large number of street children and youth. It also attracts a disproportionally large number of people displace by violence, drought and general poverty. They arrive in search of security and work. Often finding neither.

Based in an agricultural region, the availability of work in Kitale is seasonal but never exceeds 40% with unemployment often as high as 80%. With no state support and living in abject poverty many children make their way to the streets in hope of greener pastures. Estimates vary between 500 and 2,000 children being on the street at any one time.

Children have rights as human beings and also need special care and protection. This is recognised by the United Nations in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which Kenya is a signatory. Over recent years Kenya has strived to fulfil it's CRC obligations however meaningful progress has been slow, hindered by an underfunded and corrupt governing system which dates back to colonial times. In Kitale children were regularly being locked up, tried and committed to draconian penal institutions for being 'in need of care and protection'. 'C&P' remains a criminal offence though now CRK has opened the Rescue Centre the police generally avoid criminalising children as they have an alternative to locking them up.

In this context CRK works directly with children and youth as outlined on this page, and with families and children as outlined on our family page.

Please use these links below to navigate projects on this page.

Street Smart:   Working with children and youth on the street

Birunda:   Rescue Centre, Clinic and Community Project

Liyavo:   Long-stay Residential Care, Technical Training, Community Hall, Community Project

Association Model:   Forming youth groups, looking to the future


Street Smart

Street Smart is CRK's street intervention programme. It is a relatively new programme, started in 2010, and is the formalisation of activities CRK had undertaken previously on an add-hock basis. The programme is designed to reach out to children on the streets and, strategically important; identify new children arriving on the streets and offer them a safe refuge at our Rescue Centre

Girls and boys arrive daily on the streets of Kitale town where with no responsible adult guidance they quickly join the established community of street children. Once on the streets they are vulnerable and easily led by their peers. They have to take control of their lives and leave their childhood behind.

Life on the street is tough: True; there is food in the dustbins, odd jobs can bring a meal, but the streets are a dangerous place. Abuse of all forms is regular, ‘sniffing’ glue and other solvents is the norm. Children quickly adapt but that means joining the culture and accepting the abuse. Protection on the streets often demands favours and nothing can be taken for granted.
 oliver lynton, street children kenya child slum homeless project home rescue kitale
That said however, for many children the street has become their home and some are reluctant to leave it. They become accustomed to the harsh realities of street life and enjoy the access to money and the freedom it allows. Life expectancy on the streets is just 16 years. Physical, mental and sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS and discrimination leaves these children without medical care, protection and can often result in their violent rejection.

Street Smart is here for them!

The primary function of the programme is to ensure children on the streets access the same rights afforded other children. Towards this aim we provide access to healthcare, remedial education, food, washing facilities, sports, games, justice and love.

Restoring a child's dignity and recovering their childhood is key to enabling them to make choices that can transform their lives. Rehabilitation is a process that takes time and dedication; it is not just a case of taking the child off the street, but also taking the street out of the child. This can take years. Whether they oliver lynton, kipsongo, street children, kenya, child, slum, homeless, project, home, rescue, kitalechoose to remain on the streets, return home or enter our Rescue Centre, these are our children; we facilitate their choices and are there for them when and where needed.

Street Smart

The programme enables street children to access care and attention, clean up, seek medical help, learn a little and play. Now recognised by the established street community they often bring children to us. The sick and the injured, new street arrivals, those with a story to tell and those who just need some space. They are waiting and greet our staff as they approach the project. Once any urgent cases have been dealt with the project begins it's routine: Chatting washing cleaning meeting. Learning resting play & eating.

SSP also serves as a launch-pad for other CRK activities in and around the town: Community Child Protection Teams, Youth Association, HIV/AIDS Awareness and Voluntary Counselling & Testing. Please visit the relevant pages

Why not make a donation or Sponsor a Child

Birunda Rescue Centre (BRC) and Village Community Project (BVCP)

brc1 BVCP first opened in 2001 on 2 hectares (about 5 acres) of land donated to CRK by the local County Council. The Project was to combine diverse elements of community development, community health and children's home. On the foundation of best practise and lessons learnt, the children's home focuses on rehabilitation and short-term transitional care. The Rescue Centre has reduced the number of children arriving on the streets, and ensures, that those that do are offered protection. The Centre ensures children are given loving care and time to reflect on their position and, with guidance and time, make educated choices that can positively transform their lives.

BRC takes children from the streets through the Street Smart Programme and has children referred by other organisations, the police and government agencies. The children are there for a variety of reasons and present their own unique history that demand flexible and tailored responses. Most of the children are runaways or lost, however over 25% are victims of serious physical or sexual abuse.

Current Activities include
  1. Rescue Centre:

    Initially the Centre combined rescue and long stay home though it became clear that long term residential care could not provide for all the children on the streets. The number of children arriving on the streets was growing and no home was able to absorb them. Children as young as 4 where being left to fend for themselves in an increasingly hostile street environment. In 2006 Birunda made the strategic shift to become exclusively a Rescue Centre. This shift filled a vital gap in the services available to children in need. Offering fast lane access to protection for newly arrived street children meant no child had to remain on the streets for lack of an alternative. The Centre has also given the judiciary and police an alternative to entering children into the cumbersome and often abusive juvenile justice system. The Centre is also used by the Children's Dept as somewhere to temporarily house children while establishing and assessing the child's situation.
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  3. Repatriation and Home Placements:

    The 'Kenya Children's Act 2006' states that every child has the "right to a family". On arrival one of our first concerns is to trace a child's family and, if possible, reunite the family. In cases where a child has become lost this is normally a straight forward procedure. However, where the child has run away from home, the home situation is unable to care for the child, there are suspicions of abuse or there is no home at all, the reunification process becomes more complicated or even impossible. Often the root cause for running away is poverty, where an otherwise loving family simply find it impossible to provide sufficient food, yet alone school books for their children. In these cases an option may lay with family empowerment material support enable the child to stay with the family. If the family cannot be traced or there is no legal or willing guardian only then do we consider trying to place the child in a long stay residential home such as our long stay home at Liyavo

  4. Remedial Coaching:

    For all the children at the centre remedial classes are held to ensure the child's educational levels are enhanced while the child's actual situation is established and a way forward identified.

  5. Sports Facilities:

    BVCP does not underestimate the importance of sports not only in the rehabilitation process for street children but also in welding bonds between the local community and projects. We currently have a full size football pitch, netball and basketball practice area and a minimal toddlersoliver lynton, kipsongo, street children kitale kenya playground. BVCP also often provides transport for town and community based teams to attend sporting functions. Often the hard core street children form themselves into informal teams for whom we also provide lunch, washing facilities and group counselling on areas such as HIV/AIDS prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, general hygiene, etc.

  6. Provision of Affordable Health care:

    Based in our project Community Clinic and isself sustained through a minimal charge to the general public who use the facility. Please see our Health Programmes page.

  7. Community Development:

    BVCP is situated in a village that comprises mostly of IDPs who were forced from their traditional homes in the early 1990s. Successive governments and authorities have ignored this area leaving a fragile infrastructure, under funded schools and no provision for health care. BVCP is happy to help community based initiatives that fall within BVCP's ethos and constitution and depends on availability of funds. Developed communities can better care for their own children.

  8. Somewhere to Meet:

    BVCP facilities are often used as a meeting place by the community for 'barasas' and meetings addressing areas of concern to the community.

  9. HIV/AIDS Awareness:

    Through the clinic a campaign of awareness is increasing the communities ability to cope with the AIDS pandemic. Women, mothers, youth and street children are the major focus of the campaign. Family planning is freely discussed and condoms are discretely available at no cost.

brc3 Future Plans:

  1. Purpose Built Clinic: Birunda centre is in desperate need of a health centre that can provide laboratory and pharmacy services at an affordable rate. BVCP's experience is that health care provision can be self supporting once the infrastructure is provided for.

  2. Vocational Training Centre: Workshops are needed to provide older street children and destitute community members with viable skills for their futures. It is envisaged that the centre will provide skills training combined with remedial classes for the illiterate and, arts, crafts, sports and drama for those who wish turning skills training into a person building activity.

All of these activities have been planned in consultation with project children, street children, project staff and the wider community. All will require funding and all contribute to a positive and independent future for individuals and the Birunda community.

Why not make a donation or Sponsor a Child

Liyavo Children's Centre (LCC) and Village Community Project (LVCP)

Liyavo is CRK's most established project; established in 1992, it is situated on a 5.2 acre (2 hectare) plot donated to CRK by the Liyavo Settlement Scheme.
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Liyavo and surrounding villages are populated by a mix of the landless, small holders, and some extensive farms with wealthy absent landlords (an ex President owns several thousand acres here). The landless and small holders are mostly from the Bukusu tribes who were driven from their traditional homes in Kimilili and Bungoma during the clashes of the early 1990s. Many have settled and bought or been allocated small plots of normally not more than a quarter acre. Others remain squatting or have been absorbed into IDP camps such as the projects neighbour; Huruma Settlement.

Apart from the larger land owners and those lucky enough to be in permanent employment, the population lives below the poverty line relying almost exclusively on casual farm work during the harvest and planting seasons. Many children do not attend school as they have to work to support themselves and contribute to the family income.

Morbidity is a serious problem for these families as the price of medicines and transport is prohibitive, and the removal of patient and care taker from home can drastically reduce income to the home and sometimes leaves young children as family head, caring for even younger children. Recent and historic ethnic clashes, HIV/AIDS and general squalor have all taken their toll and left many children in the 'care' of distant relatives and/or ageing grandparents. General poverty and helplessness means many of these children do not receive an education at all and malnutrition is common place.

Assisting the community with such things as access to potable water, affordable health care, and improved infrastructure such as roads directly and indirectly improves the quality of life for the community in general, who in turn are more able to care for their own children.

Current Activities include
  1. Liyavo Children's Centre:

    The project offers full transitional residential care for boys and girls from a variety of backgrounds and situations. From 1992 until 1998, LCC's population was limited to about 40 children, the majority of whom were from squatter families in the local community. Construction of new dormitories and the refurbishment of some of the existing dorms made it possible to comfortably house 70 children at any one time. The Project now provides for 70 residents; 35 girls and 35 boys. The majority of children now at the project originate from the streets or from extremely difficult circumstances.brc3

    The home targets three main groups:

    • Street children from in and around Kitale town who have made the decision to leave the streets, have undergone a period of rehabilitation at our Rescue Centre, and it has been established that they have no reasonable prospect of returning to their homes in the foreseeable future.

    • Children in need who have been referred, either through the Rescue Centre or by the County Children's Office and have no functional family.

    • Children who for cultural or medical reasons are rejected by their communities and are considered 'at risk' were they to remain with their families in their villages.

    The home tries to emulate a family and all children attend local schools or a nursery. Contact with their homes is encouraged and the project actively works with the local authorities to facilitate foster families. The centre has been able to locate families and relations for nearly all of the children, which makes home visits now possible for the majority of kids. Home visits are seen as vital in maintaining or re-establishing links between the children and their communities, which in turn makes reunification, transition and eventual departure from the project much easier and is often preferable.

    Exit from the home, when reunification or fostering has not been possible, is planned and normally on completion of primary education. For those who have proved academically able secondary school is sponsored through the CRK office. Vocational skills training may also be provided. Please visit our Education & Training page. New intakes of children are possible as the older kids graduate or when children are fostered or families are reunited and the child is able to return home.

  2. Community Clinic & Health Centre:

    Liyavo has an established history as a healthcare provider in the area. Looking after our project children and the community. The clinic is able to bring health care to these impoverished communities where morbidity remains a serious threat. Please visit our Health Programmes page.

  3. Vocational Training:

    the project has a vocational training unit that concentrates on providing free skills training to youth who have been unable to complete their formal education. Beneficiaries include those who were forced from school by early pregnancy, extreme poverty or parental neglect. Having not managed to make a life for themselves the project offers a window of opportunity to them. Please visit our Education & Training page for more details.

  4. Community Development & Advocacy:

    Liyavo has a purpose built Community Hall that is available freely to development and health groups. It is regularly used by a variety of local and national entities in planning interventions and sharing knowledge. Recent guests include the local wing of the National AIDS Control Council, County Development Committee and the County Health Committee. The project also uses the hall for internal and public workshops and has been key in promoting AIDS awareness in the area.

Why not make a donation or Sponsor a Child

Association Model

Structuring Groups, Formalising Venturesworkshop

The Association Model seeks to empower youths living and working on the streets or in the slums of Kitale by facilitating the formation of support groups (self help groups), access to vocational training and apprenticeships. This model was initially developed by the Undugu Society of Kenya in Nairobi and has had positive results with many of the Nairobi street youth. CRK are implementing the pilot in Kitale.

This process involves several stages:
  • Develop links with groups of youth and introduce the programme. This will often involving sports and other informal gatherings.

  • Hold formal meetings and workshops aimed at facilitating the formation groups and identifying leaders.

  • Offer the elected leaders training and introduce them to other successful groups in Nairobi.

  • Register the groups as legal entities.

  • Identify members ready to take on training or access formal education and provide this on a rotational basis.

  • Offer skills training in 'Street Business' and open group bank accounts.

The Nairobi model has had to be adjusted to take into account the local situation in Kitale and the cultural diversity the town offers. Introducing what works and adapting the rest. This is a learning process for all involved and, though five groups have already been identified and leaders elected, it will take some time until the groups are truly cohesive entities, disciplined enough to enter the world of small business, and responsible enough to operate bank accounts.

It has become clear that there is no fixed time frame for groups to progress through this process. One group; the 'Line Moja Booster', is relatively advanced, while others are lagging behind. Life style choices and individual needs effect progress while external pressures often dictate development.