International Day for Street Children : access to essential services for all street children !
Every year on 12th April, we celebrate the International Day for Street Children. This year, the FAAI and its local partners join the international campaign initiated by Consortium for Street Children to call on the governments to ensure that all street-connected children can access essential services! This demand is more urgent than ever in the current context, as Laura Hendricksen, Executive Assistant in charge of international advocacy, explains:
"The health crisis has had a dramatic impact on street children. Since the beginning of the pandemic, access to basic services has been made even more difficult: the closure of businesses has meant that these children have no means of survival, no food... Hunger and the lack of health care have led to a deterioration in their health, and some have died”.
The pandemic has exacerbated the deprivations already present for street children, who were already often denied access to essential services because they had no identity papers, no fixed address or money.
On the occasion of this international day, Fany and Julio, two young people currently hosted at the NRJ Center, our partner in Madagascar, share with their story with us. Both have been on the streets due to a lack of financial resources, which prevented them from continuing their education and exposed them to the violence and dangers of the street.
"I fell into the street the day the woman who had been my sponsor since the 11th grade learned that I had to repeat the 8th grade, she immediately stopped her sponsorship. I roamed the streets of Tananarive for about a year”, Fany, 16 year old.
“Before I was on the street, I was in 9th grade, I wanted to continue my studies in high school but my grandmother could no longer afford it. To support myself, I picked up pieces of iron from garbage cans to sell them. Sometimes I would sleep over at my grandmother's house. The hardest part of my life was my encounters with "bandits" who gave me crazy ideas like taking drugs. I was also often hungry", Julio, 18 years old.
Now under the care of the NRJ Center team, the two young people have found a home and support to go back to school and give them new perspectives as Julio testifies, "someone introduced me and my grandmother to the night shelter. There, I immediately found help. I learned pottery, I was welcomed at the boarding school... and I was able to continue my studies. I would like to tell the decision-makers to go and see the street children up close. Because, among them, many want to go to school to learn, to do manual activities, to follow good general or professional training".
For her part, last year Fany began general studies at the vocational training center: "I feel like I'm getting back to a normal life. I want to tell the children who are still on the street not to be satisfied with that, to want to get out of it. To see higher and further ahead for their future. I dream of studying accounting so that one day I can work in a bank. And have money to live, properly."
Let's mobilize, on this international day, to ask governments to remove all the barriers that prevent children today from being able to get health care, food and a safe housing. Free education is also fundamental: let's invest now for their future!