‘Stop handouts for street kids’

Help is on the way

23 March 2021 | Social Issues

The Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has acquired a farm in the Witvlei area that will be used as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for street kids.
Speaking to Nampa, the ministry’s chief superintendent Maggy Katimba said that officials from the ministry were running a campaign to encourage members of the public to desist from giving money to streets kids under the theme “giving money to street kids is not a solution but part of the problem”.
She said the ministry has been struggling to remove kids from the streets for years due to the fact that there is no drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for children in the country. However, the ministry can now use the farm to turn into a rehabilitation centre.
“The facility has been our challenge, but we have now secured one and we are trying very hard to get it up and running so that we can take these kids out of Windhoek for rehabilitation. Then, when they are sober, we can reintegrate them into the community,” Katimba said.
She added that so far this year, the ministry had taken about 20 kids off the streets and put them in boarding schools with all the expenses paid for. Thus far around 150 children are attending after schools in Windhoek alone.

Costly exercise
All considered, it is a very costly exercise to run a rehabilitation centre.
“The centre needs to have everything running properly and smoothly. We will need psychologists, social workers and people who can teach them skills. At this stage, we are still busy putting everything together and we are hoping to have a fully-fledged facility by the end of the year,” Katimba explained.
Cecilia Kolokwe of the City Police community affairs unit who was also part of the campaign, said they have recorded incidents where streets kids have been sodomised, while many boys and girls have turned to prostitution. However, the hope is that once they have gone to the facility they will be safe and become productive citizens one day.
“These kids are being used to do evil things. The problem is that when we interrogate them, they never reveal who the people are who make them do these things. Allegedly, they are now also being used to shoplift at malls,” Kolokwe said.
One of the kids, a 16-year-old (name withheld) who resides in Okahandja Park informal settlement, said she dropped out of school in grade 8 in 2020, and that she begs for food and money because there is no food at home. – Nampa

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