International Day of the Street Child, is once again taking place on April 12th. This year the theme is the '4 Steps to Equality' - a call to governments around the world to take four steps that will achieve equality for street children.
Lead by the Consortium For Street Children, the '4 steps' Campaign (which you can read below) sums up the United Nations General Comment No 21 on 'Children in Street Situations.' This guidance was published towards the end of 2017 and, for the first time, acknowledges that governments must pay special attention to ensure street children are able to access their rights.
These are often basic things that most of us take for granted such as access to medical care, justice or protection from violence. They are also the very things that many of the persecuted, abused and tortured children that Safe Child Africa supports, have no access to when they come into our care.
So, the 4 Steps are also closely aligned to everything that we, as a charity, are working towards in 2018 and over the next 5 years.
The 4 Steps to Equality
1. Commit to equality- recognise that street connected children have the same rights as everyone else and reflect that in the law.
2. Protect every child - protect street connected children from violence and abuse and ensure children have access to justice when they are harmed
3. Provide access to services - enable access to the same essential services as every other child, such as hospitals and schools so they can reach their full potential
4. Create new solutions - deliver specialized services and opportunities that tune into the unique needs and challenges of life for street connected children.
What we're doing...
In the past 12 months, our Emergency Accommodation Centre in Calabar, has played a vital role in offering children - who would have no alternative but to sleep rough on the streets - access to rights that they would otherwise have been denied.
Every child who has accessed the Emergency Accommodation Centre has had protection; a warm bed and a safe space to be free from abuse. Each child has been appointed a caregiver, who has given them access to medical services, justice where necessary and care without conditions.
Our child support team have provided solutions for every challenge presented to them, placing the needs of the child before everything else - a first for the vast majority, who have never known a life without abuse.
And every child has had access to equality, in a place where perhaps for the first time in their lives, they have been ;listened to and properly heard.
In February 2018, alone, the Emergency Accommodation Centre provided 65 nights of shelter - and equivalent day care - to 6 children who otherwise would have had nowhere to turn.
Although the 8 bedded facility was designed to provide shelter for up to 7 nights, our first year of operation has shown that in many cases, children have stayed at the Emergency Accommodation Centre for significantly longer, with one case reporting a child remaining at the Emergency Accommodation Centre for 31 nights. This only serves to reinforce the significant gap that exists in alternative Emergency Accommodation for children in the area. And it shows how important it is for us to be able to work towards expanding the service in the future.
If you would like to help us with this, please donate here.