Children We Serve
Street life is full of risks and dangers. Children on the streets live in the moment and focus on survival. Instead of learning their multiplication tables in school, they learn how to shine shoes, pick pockets, beg, or turn a trick to earn money. Instead of sleeping under a roof and under the protection of loving caregivers, they sleep in sewers, trees or abandoned buildings, keeping an eye out for predators.
A majority of the children Kaya serves spend most or all of their day on the streets prior to coming to Kaya. Most children on the streets spend their days working to earn money for food.
They shine shoes, sing on buses, sell candy or trinkets, or carry groceries. Often, older friends teach them to steal or pull them into prostitution. As they go about their work, they endure frequent discrimination as they are called names by passers-by.
To cope with hunger, fear, pain and depression, many children turn to drugs. Inhalants, since they are cheap and widely available, are popular among children on the streets, as is alcohol. Children also engage in cutting as a means of coping with the stresses of street life. It is not uncommon to find children with multiple scars from self-inflicted razor blade wounds.
Children on the streets are often victimized and exploited by other street children, as well as by adults in positions of power. Many have been beaten, raped, cheated and tortured. All have been exposed to multiple acts of violence. Over time, these experiences teach children not to trust others and warp children's understanding of relationships.
Life on the streets threatens the healthy development of millions of children. It also takes lives. Roughly 10% of the children we work with on the streets each year lose their lives. Some commit suicide, some die in tragic accidents related to their vulnerability on the streets, and others are killed as a result of street violence.
One of Kaya's primary values is to be present with the children on the streets. It's there that we work to protect them, advocate on their behalf and begin to find hope for transformation and a new life. We believe every child is created in the image of God and street life continually destroys this dignity and robs them of their childhood. Learn more about how Kaya brings hope and change to the lives of street children.