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Reintegrating street children in Alexandria

Street children re-integrate with their families to fully participate in society

From the mid 90’s, street children have become a tangible phenomenon in all major cities in Egypt, and their number is still rising. Estimates range from 90,000 to 2 million street children, depending on the definition. Children living in the streets face a lot of problems because they are unprotected and face all forms of violence, such as getting arrested, drug abuse, harassment and risky behaviour.

Based on our assessments over the years, we have decided to work with the children at risk to help in reducing the escalating number of street children, aiming to improve their lives, re-integrating them with their families, and helping them fully participate in society.

Our aim

Caritas-Egypt’s Children at risk program started in 1995. We support street children and assist them with their re-integration process in their family and society while making them aware of their rights. We offer safe environments with easy access to comprehensive services, to improve the quality of life and well-being of the growing number of children at risk. Our aim is to help reduce the number of street children in Alexandria.

Protecting children rights

Based on the protection of human rights in general and children at risk specifically, Caritas advocates the rights of children and provides basic needs. In addition, we:

  • Activate the national strategy to protect and rehabilitate street children
  • Help children get their rights back
  • Protect children from street risks
  • Reduce the negative influence of children at risk on society

Our Units

  1. Orientation & Rehabilitation center

The orientation and rehabilitation center is designed to welcome street children. About 20-30 children frequent the center on the half day basis. They are rehabilitated in health and nutrition, education, social, behavioural and psycho-social and psychological aspects.

  1. Emergency center

The emergency center receives street children who are in urgent need for rescue and help in terms of health, education and social intervention. The center can accommodate 25 to 30 children for a maximum of 30 days.

  1. Street work

Street educators and the mobile unit explore the areas where street children gather. Their aim is to form a bond and gain their trust, so they can lead them to the orientation and rehabilitation centers and shelters.

  1. Shelter for boys

The shelter ensures full and complete protection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has room for some 30 boys. The shelter helps build confidence to prepare the boys for adaptation to and cooperation with the community. It provides access to main services, including psycho-social support, life skills activities, education, legal assistance, vocational training and medical care. As well as basic needs like clothing, a clean place to sleep, drink and nutrition.

“The team has established trust with the children. The children like staying in the shelter because of the friendly environment. The relationship with the families is good because they know that the shelter provides all sort of basic needs and teaches the children respect.”

  1. Shelter for girls

The girl shelter opened in 2001 and is operated in collaboration with Caritas’ partner Janayouty. The shelter provides safe housing and comprehensive services, such as psychosocial support and life skills, vocational training, medical care and education. The center can accommodate around 20 girls.

  1. Legal unit

The legal unit support children to execute their rights and helps them to reintegrate in their families and society. Activities include legal support in front of courts or police station, legal papers such as birth certificates and ID, legal procedures concerning education, health, social solidarity, etc.

  1. Family unit

The family unit reintegrates children with their families and provides counseling for both the child and the family to improve their relationship.

Activities

  • Medical care – General regular check-up, health awareness, First Aid, transfer to specialized clinics and hospitals
  • Education – Illiteracy elimination classes, friendly schools, reintegration in formal schools, intellectual and educational toys, reading and library
  • Vocational training – Crafts such as leather and carpentry, electricity and welding, cosmetics and hairdressing
  • Awareness and psychological support – Individual and group meetings by social workers on specific topics such as dangers of the street, sexual abuse, child rights.
  • Sports, music, and theatre
  • Handicrafts and drawing
  • Events: weekly trips, summer camp, etc.
  • Work with the community

Facts & figures

Direct beneficiaries:

Children at risk and street children in the age of 6 to 18, whose basic rights are ignored, and jeopardizing them to danger, mainly due to the degradation of their social and family environment. Particular attention to children suffering from severe violence disturbing their psychological balance.

Indirect beneficiaries:

  • Families and parents of children at risk
  • Communities
  • Local authorities
  • Professionals (social workers, employees in care institutions) and non-professionals working with or for children
  • NGOs in this field
  • Media awareness

Each year we target around:

  • 800 street children through our street work
  • 600 children at risk through our Orientation and Rehabilitation Centre and Emergency Centre
  • 75 boys through our shelter
  • 25 girls through our shelter
  • 50 families
  • 100 community member and workers

Where: Alexandria

Partners & sponsors

  • Elsoury and Elmarghany NGO
  • Janayouty NGO
  • Tahya Masr
  • Don Bosco Institute
  • Egyptian Arab Academy
  • Caritas Austria
  • Plan International
  • GDF Suez

Other collaborators

  • Child protection committees in local districts in Alexandria
  • Ministry of Social Affairs
  • Higher Institute of Social Work
  • Cultural Centre of Jesus in Alexandria
  • NGOs working with street children
  • Governmental youth clubs
  • Schools
  • National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM)

Results

  1. Through efficient street work, an increasing number of street children gain access to different services, become risk aware and receive protection.
  2. Through the orientation and rehabilitation center more children at risk have access to care, medical, psychological, educational, vocational, social, and legal and rehabilitation services.
  3. Through our various centers, we more and more families of children at risk take advantage of our psychological-social, administrative and/or legal support.
  4. More children got re-integrated into shelters or families and returned to formal education or professional vocational training
  5. Children rights are better known recognized and applied among community and authority figures.

Contact

Hany Maurice Obied
Children at risk project manager
Mail: hany.maurice@caritasalex.org
Mobile: +1224785401