It is impossible to appreciate what it is like to live in an environment that is dirty smelly and that it is preferable to live on the streets than at home.
It is impossible to appreciate what it is like to live where the lack of food or love or because of abuse drives an individual to the street at a young age and take up glue sniffing to relieve the body of the pain.
Rehabilitation for a child from the street requires the presence of the first level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs - love, food, warmth and shelter. It also requires structure to one's life along with appropriate discipline and education.
The child also needs to have something to believe in and look forward to that will raise their aspirations and expectations for a better life. They need to see beyond their immediate difficult circumstances.
In 2005 The Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper, along with The Rotary Foundation and Thika Rotary club, set up the Interim Care Centre for street children in Thika, Kenya for Action for Children in Conflict (AfCiC). Every year since then Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper have visited the project and helped in other ways.
The weekend before Christmas, a camping trip is organised for the street children of Action for Children in Conflict (AfCiC). This simple experience is these children's Christmas present. It allows the children to experience part of their own country and a completely different environment.
The trip, now in its third year, has gone from strength to strength. In the first year there were 27, in 2008 there were 47, and in 2009 there will be even more.
I have learnt a lot about animals and camping, and I learnt how to put up a tent
It was fun to sleep in a tent and hear the noises outside. It was my first time sleeping in a tent
We had to all get on with each other, and behave well, which is important for when I go to school
This is my first time out of Thika, and I feel more confident now to talk to new people
You feel very good when you have climbed a mountain. It makes you feel like you can do anything
I spoke to new people on the trip and made new friends. Which is good
I want to do well in school so I can go camping all the time!
I learnt a lot of things that I can tell people about when I go to school
The boys are still telling stories about our visit to the park and the animals we saw. Three nights out on the chilly shores of lake Naivasha and the sounds of the hippos yawning at night really made great stories for the lives of the boys, a new experience!
As a reward after a discipline of the rehabilitation period, the trip really motivated the boys and boosted their commitment to rehabilitation.
It was a really educational camp which the children enjoyed, and they had a chance to interact with new things and environments and people which helped them to learn many things.
While the camping trip is a personal initiative, the Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper have also supported it.
If you would like to help make this possible, please make a donation via the Justgiving web site.
Very many thanks,
W. Bruce Gow
Abingdon Vesper RC