“Aunty, you take me home” has been a common phrase from the children on the streets of Jinja this week, and the atmosphere is one of nervous tension. This is because, in a radio broadcast on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the local authorities issued a warning to children on the streets to return home or face arrest. The probation officer, a respected influential figure in the local community, stated that children on the streets are “idle and disorderly” and will no longer be tolerated on the streets of Jinja.
Unfortunately, it is not new that children on the streets might be rounded up. Last week, the S.A.L.V.E drop-in centre welcomed 3 children out of prison. They attended the drop-in centre before they were arrested and S.A.L.V.E is happy that they are no longer imprisoned. The local media has been reporting stories of police round ups for years and describing these occurrences as attempts “to rid the town of criminals”. This reflects the attitudes of some of the local people who have told us that we should “gather up all the children from the streets and lock them in a pen”. One local newspaper summarised this view: “Society seems to see them as mere dirt, a societal menace!”. You can read the full article here.
The S.A.L.V.E Approach
However, S.A.L.V.E believes that a child on the streets is still just a child, who deserves our attention, support and love. S.A.L.V.E wants to give these children the opportunity to leave their difficult pasts behind them and move forward, towards a brighter future.
S.A.L.V.E thinks that it is important to address the causes not just the symptoms of children on the streets. This means looking deeper than just the conditions under which these children live and finding out what kind of family backgrounds they come from and therefore the factors that could have contributed to their situation.
Thus, S.A.L.V.E is working within the local community to try and change negative perceptions of children on the streets. Last week we even managed to get our recent drugs research reported in the national Ugandan press! This is positive as it is through information sharing and community sensitisation that organisations can work together to address the plight of children on the streets.
You can find out more about the S.A.L.V.E approach on our new and improved website here.