International Day for Street Children
On April 12, International Day for Street Children, and April 13, Fondation Apprentis d'Auteuil International, in conjunction with Fondation Apprentis d'Auteuil, is organizing conferences in Geneva and broadcast online, on the theme "From exclusion to inclusion: what future prospects for street children? Jean Dzéné, head of the Children in Street Situations and Strategy programme, and Dedho, 27 years old, who experienced the street in France, recall the importance of this Day.
Why do you organize conferences around the International Day for Street Children?
To mark the occasion ! To make people understand that the issue of children in street situations must become a central concern for States and the UN. We can no longer close our eyes! Because, even if the actors concerned implement all the means at their disposal, the number of children in street situations is not decreasing.
More and more young people, from 6 to 18 years old and beyond, are victims of violence within the family circle. This violence leads them to the street, which does not offer them a peaceful life. Even if there is a strong solidarity, it is hard to live on the street! Each one has to make a place for himself, often through physical or sexual violence... And when the children manage to be cared for in shelters, the very few and sometimes insufficiently trained social workers, despite their bravery, are unable to manage everything.
How many of these children are living on the streets?
The studies are old because the means to finance them are lacking! In 2005, UNICEF estimated that there were 100 million of children in street situation throughout the world. In Antananarivo, Madagascar, there are 23,000. In Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we estimate that there are 20,000. To address a problem, we need to know its scope!
For example, in 2021, Apprentis d'Auteuil was able to conduct a study on "The socio-anthropological situation of street children in Madagascar". To find out what the children were going through and what their concerns were in order to respond as closely as possible. We would like to duplicate this study in other countries. And more than ever, to take the side of children. To make clear the challenges they face on a daily basis and the solutions that Apprentis d'Auteuil and its partners in Africa, Latin America and Asia are implementing for their future.
The International Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by all states in the world except the United States, must be applied and must meet the basic needs of children (housing, food, protection, etc.).
What do you expect from these conferences?
In Geneva, we are going to give children a voice, either in person or remotely via pre-recorded videos. Everyone - diplomats, civil society, young people - must hear the voices of these boys and girls. We want to call on the United Nations to hold accountable those states who have ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. The States must also release funds to better support the children and their families.
In the past, we thought that the problem of children in street situation only affected poor countries. Today, we realize in Europe that more and more children are living on the streets. We are faced with a social and societal problem that is becoming more and more important. If nothing is done, the future of many children throughout the world will be compromised. It is an emergency: no child should be left on the street! This must raise our awareness !
Dedho, 27 years old: "Young people are the future. Don't forget us!"
At 27 years old, Dedho bears witness to the precarity of young people and invites the State to mobilize.
"I grew up alone with my mother. I had a violent father who left at one point. As a result, I dropped out of school and found myself on the street at around 14 and then again at around 18. I slept wherever I could. I ate what I could when I could. When I was 19, I didn't project myself into the future at all. For me, it was almost laughable to imagine myself in my 30s and 40s, having a life like any other. I felt like an undesirable person. I was often kicked out of the place where I was. There was no place where I felt good, where I was accepted, where I could settle down, where I felt at home. The trigger? I got my first apartment, which allowed me to gain some stability and above all a lifestyle, a rhythm. This virtuous circle pulled me upwards. Little by little. For me, in France, the State should take a step in the direction of youth. Because young people are the future. Don't forget that!
"From exclusion to inclusion : what future prospects for children in street situations?", interactive conferences in person in Geneva and online are organized on April 12 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm and on April 13 from 4:30 pm to 8 pm.