Everyone sees them, no-one notices them.
It’s Emilie here; I’m the Prevention and Protection Programme Manager here at Safe Child Africa. Part of my role is to manage our projects, which support street children, so I’m very excited that coming up in just a few days on 12th April will be the fifth International Day for Street Children!
So what is the Day, and why is it important?
It was launched in 2011 by the Consortium for Street Children to help make sure that millions of street children around the world have their voices heard. Having an International Day is a great way to draw attention to a particular issue, because it provides an opportunity and focus for all kinds of action and activity.
The Day has high profile supporters including Steven Gerrard, Danny Boyle, John Major and Bianca Jagger – this also helps to get increased media attention on street children which in turn means we can pressure governments to take action to protect their rights.
I’ve been with the charity since I started as a volunteer in 2009, and I’ve visited Nigeria many times so I’ve met first hand with many of the street children we support. It’s absolutely vital we keep drawing attention to street children because they are ignored by so many.
A few years ago a street outreach worker in Calabar said something I’ll never forget: “Everyone sees them, no one notices them”.
Every time I go back to Nigeria I still find it shocking just how invisible street children can be – although I’m not sure that it is really any different anywhere else in the world. That’s why it’s so important to have this International Day: we can shine a light on the issues street children face and what needs to be done to help them.
We’ve been marking the Day since it was launched with events and social media campaigns in the UK and Nigeria. One of the things I’m most proud of is how street children have been involved in these events all the way through – in Calabar, where many of our projects are based, we hold a march every year so street children can stand up for their own rights and show the world they have a voice.
I’ve just come back from Nigeria, where I met with one of the boys who took part in the first ever march back in 2011 – it was so good to hear that he is now off the streets and doing well in school!
Even in the pouring rain the children won’t be silenced!
There’s a petition to have the International Day for Street Children formally recognized by the UN – this will mean even more people get to hear about what’s going on and will help to get high-level action on street children’s rights. You can sign it here.
If you want to read more about our work visit our street children page.