Street Children and Family Strengthening Programs

Even to a children’s charity which deals with so much of the world’s heart-ache, few things are more upsetting than the sight of young children having to forage and beg an existence on the streets of a large city. Unfortunately, such children are a fact of life in many large cities.

Street Children in Malawi

Many NGOs (including us and UNICEF) split street children into two types:

  1. Street children who have no homes:
    They sleep on the street (or without any family environment). Family ties may exist but are tenuous and are maintained only casually or occasionally. Sometimes they have been orphaned, in some places like Zambia this may well be by HIV/AIDS. Sometimes their parents have been driven by poverty and the needs of other brothers and sisters to abandon their own child. We struggle to understand the depths of dispair which might lead a mother or father to do this.
  2. Street children who are involved in some sort of economic activity (begging, shoe cleaning, selling):
    Most go home at the end of the day and contribute their earnings to their family. They may even be attending school and retain a sense of belonging to a family. Because of the economic fragility of the family, these children may eventually end up permanently on the streets.
    One thing is clear. However these young children got there, they need our help and protection. Otherwise they will have no childhood at all, and may well not survive.

For the first type of Street child we run “Family Strengthening Programmes” (FSP). These programs exist both to prevent complete family break-up and children being left alone. FSPs try to get children on the edge some sort of childhood and education. This website contains a lot of details about Family Strengthening programs, why we do them and how they work.

We also list a few of our projects for street children. Read how in Zambia, HIV/AIDS has ruined countless homes. See how in Bolivia, extreme poverty makes suffering a part of everyday life, and the police regard street children as there to exploit. Learn that in Colombia, local businesses will stop at nothing to "get rid of" children they regard as simply a nuisance. Read about Kenya, where life is short and dirty for street children. Read all these things, but remember that when you go to sleep SOS Children is still working to help these children worldwide.

Would you like to learn more about the work of SOS Children, or about how you can help Street Children around the world? If you would like to sponsor a child through SOS Children, click on the words “sponsor a child”! General information on SOS Children can be found by following the link at the top right corner of the page.

To read more about SOS Social and Medical Centres, which also play a vital role in reducing the numbers of street children, visit out SOS Medical and Social Centres site.