Children forced to live on streets
Rehabilitation plan almost complete
26 May 2020 | Government
There are currently 41 children known to be living on the streets in the Omaheke region, of which 31 are from Gobabis and the remaining ten from Otjinene.
According to Senior Public Relations Officer of the Omaheke regional council Tauno Iileka, all these children were reintegrated to their homes during the Corona outbreak in Namibia. “However, two children who were rejected by their families due to their apparent poor behaviour, were taken to a resettlement farm in the Gobabis constituency allocated to the division responsible for child welfare,” she said.
In an effort to rehabilitate these children, the regional division of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare is busy compiling a rehabilitation plan to help the children at the resettlement farm. “The implementation thereof is expected to commence as soon as the plan has been completed,” Iileka said, adding that thereafter the children who are of school-going age will be reintegrated into schools while the older youth could be enrolled into the National Youth Service.
The issue of children living on the streets requires a multi-sectoral approach from both the public and private sector. “The division responsible for child welfare has a resettlement farm where children without homes are placed and where there are caretakers for the children. The main aim of the farm is to cater for children living on the street in the long run,” she explained. However, private sector support is required to supplement the provision of basic needs such as food and toiletries.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, council has been receiving donations from the private sector in the form of food and blankets, and council would like to encourage the private sector to continue with this support.
Social workers responsible for child welfare should continue with regular visits to parents whose children live on the streets to provide psychosocial support and to discuss parental responsibilities towards their children, the physical and mental wellbeing of children, supervision of children, discipline, reintegration of children into schools and to get them off the street, and the misuse of children’s welfare grants by parents. “The division responsible child welfare will also monitor this to ensure there is food at home and family support.”
According to Iileka, it is important that social workers integrate the children back into schools through the regional directorate of education, arts and culture as part of the rehabilitation programme and for this directorate to strengthen the annual back-to-school campaigns aimed at returning children who have dropped out of school. “This includes children who are forced to live on the streets.”
Iileka continued saying that constant monitoring will be done to prevent the children who have successfully been reintegrated into their homes and schools from returning to the streets because once they return, they start recruiting other children as well.
The children’s age varies from as young as ten to as old as 22. According to Iileka, some of the reasons for the children living on the streets include parents encouraging children to beg for food and money on the streets to sustain the households.
“There is also a lack of supervision by parents at home to ensure the children stay off the streets. There is also pressure from older youth who have become accustomed to life on the street,” she said. Other reasons are that some children come from child-headed households where there are no parents to take care of them, or parents reject them due to their apparent ill-discipline and bad behaviour.