Meru Children’s Home was opened in 1999 to care for children from the streets in Meru Town. Since then many children have passed through and achieved qualifications in various vocational trades, one boy went to university, one girl trained to be a nurse and another young man is currently doing nurse-training.
In line with Government policies, the Children’s Home has undergone a huge transition from being a long-term residential home to becoming a short-term rescue and rehabilitation centre.
Children leave their families and go to the streets for a variety of reasons – a few because they don’t like being disciplined either at home or at school, and initially independent life on the streets looks attractive – until the reality kicks in! Others leave when a parent re-marries and there are problems with the new step-parent or new siblings. Some run away from abject poverty, actual abuse and neglect, but a high proportion of children are orphans and have nowhere else to go.
Social workers and trained volunteers from the new Children’s Centre are befriending the children on the streets, listening to their stories, gaining their trust and providing lunch, shower facilities and space to tell their individual stories and receive counselling. As the children learn to trust them the workers assess them and their needs and then work to get them reunited with their extended families.
Some of the children have already returned to their homes but others are needing more time and care with weeks or perhaps months of counselling and support. All of them will be followed up and monitored by the workers from the home and the families will be given practical support in the form of food, help with school fees and uniforms.