– There are 125,000 street children in Kenya and 65,000 of those are in Nairobi alone. They are the world’s most vulnerable children. It is commonly held that life for street children in Kenya is “dirty, violent and short”. Hungry, abused and alone, these children try to find ways of dealing with the harsh reality of their lives. Quickly they become addicted to drugs in order to help deal with the life they are leading or become conscripted into violent gangs who make them into criminals for a dollar a day.
In the streets, proper sanitation is a myth. The children have no access to clean drinking water. Most of them end up contracting water-borne diseases from drinking contaminated water running in the drainage systems of the city or (worse) the polluted Nairobi River. To these street children a shower is a luxury that they never get to enjoy, except for the occasional moment when they are caught unaware by the unpredictable rains of Nairobi.
Most people will argue that “water is life”, but it is not until you visit the hangout hoods of these boys that you really understand that fact.
James’ father died when he was very young, leaving his mother with five children. She could not cope.
James drifted onto the streets of Nairobi, where he lived for a number of years. His sole possessions were rolled each morning in a sack. He survived by pickpocketing and selling scrap metals. He made life feel as if it were less harrowing by sniffing glue, although he was often beaten up by the police and hospitalised.
The Immanuel Afrika Centre found him on the street and took him in hand. They made him substance-free; gave him back his self-respect; educated him; and fired him with ambition. He is off to Nairobi University soon.
So many things have had a positive impact on James’s life, not least his access to clean water, which was provided to the centre by Just a Drop. He can now turn on a tap and drink clean water without the fear of water-borne diseases; he can bathe daily and looks clean and smart in his fresh clothes.
The water is also used on the vegetable garden which produces a wide variety of good things to eat. James is now healthy, clean and alert. He is eager to learn and become a good and contributing Kenyan citizen.
Laurent was orphaned at an early age and left in the care of his grandmother who lived in destitution. Forced onto the street by poverty, he started sniffing glue. He says he never took a shower for one year. On his first day at the Immanuel Afrika Centre he was ushered into the bathroom. As he washed for the first time in a year, he couldn’t help but hum the old hymn Amazing Grace. Laurent was so grateful for that clean water – available thanks to Just a Drop – and for a place to be warm, fed, and educated. He is now rehabilitated and dreams of being a lawyer!
The Centre would not have been able to expand without its own water supply. Thanks to Just a Drop, more young street boys like James will have the chance of a brighter future. Find out more about the project at the Immanuel Afrika Centre by clicking here.