Kenya Works Delivers 4-Day Training on Child Safety in Samburu
Helps Community Address Rising Cases of Youth Housing Insecurity
"Children are not things to be molded, they are people with potential to be unfolded."
According to Kenya Works Social Worker Benjamin Makori, this was the team's takeaway from the recent Community Works training they held in Maralal Township. Located in Samburu County in northern Kenya, Maralal is an urban business center mostly populated and surrounded by the semi-nomadic pastoralists of the Samburu tribe.
The Samburu are one of the most famous and interesting indigenous people of Kenya. They are known for their traditionalist lifestyle, including their own dialect of the Maa (Maasai) language, colorful clothing and renowned beadwork—all largely unchanged by Western influence. The team set foot in the region through key gatekeepers they knew would be powerful ambassadors for change, inviting attendees representing government, religious organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), women's groups and parents.
Through four days of intensive training, the Kenya Works team instructed participants on non-violent parenting, eliminating gender-based violence (GBV), developing a child protection network and educating on human rights protections afforded by Kenyan law with instruction on accessing legal aid.
Among several takeaway notes and observations from the workshop, child protection was the most urgent point of action for community members. In particular, they were looking for support in addressing the rapidly increasing number of children living in the streets of Maralal. They identified truancy as a primary cause and sought solutions to getting children back to school along with general measures to improve social justice for children.
"As if to demonstrate the issue, a group of street children found persistent ways to draw and attract our attention during the training session, such as pitching stones onto the tin roof over our heads," Makori said with a smile. "They knew visitors had come to the community. Maybe they knew the Swahili saying 'mgeni njoo mwenyeji apone’—whenever a visitor arrives there must be something good and new the residents will enjoy."
"We understood the boys were asking to be acknowledged," he continued. "And so, we arranged to stay another day to put together a lunch meal for the kids and community leaders. Maralal Township Chief Celina Lemakara has been successful in getting a number of kids into school over the past several years, and she is known and trusted by them. She introduced our group and said as a way of sharing love and hearing their opinions, Kenya Works was inviting them to share a lunchtime meal," he explained.
Eager to eat and engage, 63 children came to eat and many to converse as well. After lunch, Kenya Works provided them with motivational talks and then organized small round table groups of children and community leaders. Through these conversations, the team learned:
Many of the kids expressed they feel unseen, and just want to be heard. Mostly they feel they only get noticed during the holidays when a few individuals share a Christmas meal.
During group discussions, the boys were grouped according to their ages. Most of them expressed they were in the streets because their parents were not able to meet their basic needs, largely associated with domestic violence, substance abuse, poor parenting and negligence.
Most of these boys came from the same neighborhood, an informal settlement that is largely associated with crime, alcoholism and GBV cases.
The area chief has put effort into getting children into school and has made a good impression on the children. Some continue to live in the streets and attend school, while others have been reunited with either a family member or a guardian.
There are no strict policies undertaken by the local leadership to reduce or prevent more children from coming to the streets. So, Kenya Works helped the attendees organize a child protection network made up of key leaders from the church, Nyumba Kumi elders, teachers and charitable children organizations. Kenya Works provided the model based on the Ongata Rongai protection network and will stay connected with their committee as a resource and provide legal aid guidance.
Kenya Works partnered with Springs of Hope Children’s Home to arrange that six children who had shown interest in music will join a nearby vocational college to foster their skills and talents. Three others received full school uniforms from one of our facilitators, while another child earned himself a full scholarship to a private primary school.
The Kenya Works Community Works program was launched in 2014 as a traveling human rights workshop to bring knowledge, skills and power to communities across Kenya. The 4-day program delivers intensive training on non-violent parenting, eliminating gender-based violence and harmful cultural practices, developing child protection networks and accessing human rights protections afforded by Kenyan law. In addition, Kenya Works provides 1-day anti-FGM forums. The workshops have reached across 22 of Kenya's 47 counties, training hundreds of ambassadors annually.