Cohort 4 were inspired to work with the local street kids in Rango after the previous cohort had noticed a growing number of young children spending their day around the LUTI office. The children, many of whom appeared to be homeless, are begging for food and do not attend school. After discussing their needs as a group, we decided that a blend of classroom and sports based activities could provide some much needed structure in their lives. This resulted in the launch of the Kids Club!
|The team and the street children after the first sports session|
From our first day in Huye, we met some of the strongest characters to attend our sessions, but also those who seemed to have the greatest needs. Calixte immediately stood out to us, from his physical appearance as the youngest most ragged looking child, but also the loudest and cheekiest of the group. Every morning, we found him waiting outside our office, despite his hardship always wearing a big smile and demonstrating a boundless amount of energy. It was Calixte who made it clear to us that, as a group, the street children were in desperate need of positive adult role models. Mostly in the local community they are treated as second class citizens by adults; they are shooed away from shops and restaurants and feel like they have nowhere to turn. The objectives of the Kids Club, therefore, became to offer an outlet for their energy through inclusive activities which help to build a bond between them as well as providing important life skills.
|Volunteer Gianne taking a break from a sports session with Calixte and Jean-Claude|
From the second week of our cohort we began the sports element of the kids club, using local facilities as a hub for our sessions. We were very lucky to have a member of our team with experience in this area, Carl (who the kids have named King Carlo) has been using rugby to engage troubled young people in the UK to make positive life choices. His skills were essential to the smooth running of the sports sessions. So far we have conducted three sports sessions and Carl has been slowly introducing the concept of touch rugby and team work to the children. His energy and commitment to this group of beneficiaries has been the cornerstone of Kids Club.
|Volunteer Carl leading a touch rugby session|
We quickly realised that two weekly sports sessions would not be enough to satisfy the complex needs of the street children. While sports sessions give them the opportunity to release their energy in a constructive way (rather than fighting), we discovered that many of them were keen to learn new skills including reading and writing, improving their English and using computers, since they are not able to go to school. It was at this point that we introduced a third weekly session at our office where we lead a session focused on their learning. For example, in this week’s session, each child produced their own ‘profile’ where they drew a picture of themselves and wrote their name, age and favourite things in English. A vital part of all three weekly sessions is to provide the children with a much needed meal and the opportunity to enjoy sitting together in a café, something which would normally not be possible for them. Each session they are provided with water, bananas, porridge and bread which we hope will contribute to fighting the malnutrition from which many of them suffer.
|Volunteer Davis helping Calixte write his profile|
The street children have quickly become one of our favourite but most challenging groups to work with. We have faced serious issues of organisation; the children can find it difficult to engage in a structured environment as it is so far from their daily norms. Equally, as a team we have experienced some challenges due to the language barrier with the children and the fact that we were not prepared for the number of children who quickly began showing up to our sessions.
|Street Child Jean Paul's Profile|
|Street Child Peti's Profile|
In just three weeks of implementation, the children have already surprised us with the progress that they have made and we are excited to see this continue for the remaining weeks of our placement. Although our plans are ambitious, the enjoyment we get from working with the children motivates us to ensure its sustainability for the future.
Carl Redgrave, Felicity Martin-Daly and Keziah Lewin
Photos by Shema Isaac and Gianne Pineda