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What does belonging mean to street children: IDSC 2024

Updates • Kenya • Apr 2024

On 12th April, we recognise International Day for Street Children; a special day acknowledging the strength and resilience of millions of street children around the world. An important day not just in the Toybox calendar, but the opportunity for all of us to raise awareness of the challenges of those around the world who are living, working and depending on the streets for survival.

In collaboration with the Consortium for Street Children, this year the theme of this important day focuses on 'belonging'. Asking, what does belonging mean to children and young people in street situations themselves and how can duty bearers help them achieve and strengthen their sense of belonging within their communities.

As part of activities in the lead up to the day, our partner in Kenya, Pendekezu Letu (PKL), organised a group discussion in Nairobi with children and young people in street situations around the theme of belonging.

The group explored the idea of belonging and what it means to them and to other children in their communities. They also shared with each other what helps to make them feel like they belong in society, and what makes them feel excluded. Their answers are surprising, at times heartbreaking, and inspiring.

What does belonging mean to you?

  • Helping each other
  • Having a clean and safe space to sleep
  • Having friends and family nearby
  • Being respected and accepted in the base
  • Being able to work
  • Good behaviour
  • Brotherhood
  • Church
  • Being happy together
  • Being loved
  • Being known

What makes you feel excluded?

  • Police brutality
  • Conflict with other communities
  • Lack of basic services
  • Boda boda (motorbike taxi) riders
  • Not being able to enter hotels or hospitals because we are seen as dirty

What makes you feel included?

  • When we are supported by the community
  • The base members* supporting each other through hardship
  • Local churches giving us food to eat
  • People giving us soap and space to bathe
  • Metal workers letting us collect scrap metal for sale
  • Drivers letting us board their vehicles for free when we have no fare
  • Healthworkers caring for us when we are sick

Here at Toybox, we believe every child, no matter where they live in the world, should feel a sense of belonging. It is one of humanity's most basic needs.

On this International Day for Street Children, we hope that by sharing young people's voices and experiences, it is a reminder to individuals and governments around the world that we need to continue to work together towards a better, fairer world for street children.

To keep up to date with Toybox and our latest news and updates on social media, follow @ToyboxCharity on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

*Children on the streets in Nairobi live with peers/family in groups in open spaces they identify as safe. These 'bases' are normally located in unused public spaces such as flyovers or disused land.

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