It is an incredibly large area, which has grown over the decades on top of piles of rubbish of all kinds and receives about tons of solid waste per day. In the meantime, they inhale or come into contact with hazardous materials such as lead, mercury or cadmium. From the beginning, our community has chosen to take care of children and young people and, among these, it has privileged the poorest among the poor.
I give in to an old desire
Street Children have their own code, they are very united with each other and, especially if they have been living on the street for years, they form a sort of identity of their own. Koinonia took its first steps in Kenya in Since then, it has had two primary care centers, three residential centers, a medical dispensary and a physiotherapy service which, at the moment, cares for over two hundred street children, and runs a number of schools.
To reach and secure street children, Koinonia operators -many of whom are former Street Children — adopt a direct approach by establishing a relationship with the children where they live, sometimes spending the night with them and, following a path made of daily life and closeness, they convince, without ever forcing them, the little ones to join the project. They then work to reconstruct contact with the families and local communities, and prepare for their return to school. The child takes a nice shower, receives new clothes and burns the old ones, almost as if to mean with a gesture the end of his old life and the beginning of a new one.
Throughout the s we had a hard time finding an approach that really worked: the children were driven here by primary needs, they stayed a bit and left. Nobody really cared about me and then, I ended up on the street, I was 5 years old.
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At night, the police came to beat us up and treat us like animals, during the day we wandered to gather some small coins. Jack is a former street child who was hosted about fifteen years ago by Father Kizito, now in charge of the reception centers.
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He is very popular among children who welcome him climbing on his statuary body. Then I started to spend time with them every morning, I brought them food, sometimes I organized football matches, some evenings I stopped over at night. Everyone avoids you and mistreats you. It is Sunday at the Domus Mariae centre where Koinonia runs a reception centre and a secondary school.
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All come to the mass, celebrated by Father Kizito, even the little ones of Islamic faith: left unguarded, they choose to participate to dance and sing with others. In the Mater Nigritia chapel, crowded with about a hundred children, there is calm and joy.
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