Tuberculosis is just one of the many health risks that street children and youth face. Due to limited access to health care and their transient lifestyle, it is often difficult to get appropriate treatment. With TB, you take 4 different drugs for 2 months and 2 drugs for 4 months after that.
Tumaini is currently helping 5 individuals get consistent access to medical care and adhere to the strict (and long!) treatment schedule. Here is one boy who just recently completed treatment and is now TB free!
The normal routine is Dan goes off and surveys people one at a time and I find somewhere to hang out. I usually tend to attract a crowd so we have more people to survey. Sometimes I test out my Swahili and often get laughed out (but everyone does appreciate that I try and they tend to teach me). Sometimes someone speaks English and acts as our translator. Sometimes I end up sitting alone as everyone is weary of me.
Here I was sitting and playing AK47 with Charlie (in the red with his back to the camera) while the guy in the windbreaker beside him was translating things.
This was taken at Asis (one of the bases). One of the boys found a lots of sausages either in a garbage or were given them from a store as they were old (not sure).
Meat is not something they get to eat very often (and Kenyans LOVE their meat) so you imagine how excited everyone was (evident from this guy’s face!).
This was one of the first days of the survey… and Dan slaved in the sun for 4 hours to get about 40 surveys done!
This is one of the smaller bases (about 25 kids with only one leader) and I really like it as they always make sure to share when they find food.
On Fridays some of the local people have a religious belief to give out food to the street kids. We were here one day on a Friday when a man drove up at the top of the alley and the kids all sprinted over. I was confused, but they returned with a bag filled with juice and bread. It was brought to the leader and he divided it among everyone (Dan and myself included).
This is also at East-leigh.
The boys get money by carrying heavy loads for people at the market or from stores using trolleys like the one in this picture. They work mainly in the morning and then from 4-8 when most people are off work.
I have no idea where they got this trolley, but I would assume it was given to one of the boys from a local organization working to help street children as there is no way anyone on the street would make enough to buy one for themselves.
Here I am getting my hair braided in Mangula (another base) while Dan was administering the survey. People love my hair as it’s so different from what they are use to. Someone had also shared their sugar cane with me so my mouth was quite happy in this picture. We were here for about 4 hours in the sun so I was absolutely starving and dehydrated by this point.
Mangula is the oldest base and has mainly older youth that belong to it. In my opinion, it is also the roughest base and some of the people really reflect the harshness that is street life.
The girl in white (Naomi) is one of the girls in the livelihood program at Tumaini. She has been taken to training for hair dressing and is currently on attachment (co-op) at a local beauty salon.
Two of the boys being boys at East-leigh on our second round of surveying that base (play fighting) . The bottle in the one boys mouth is has shoe glue in it. A lot of street kids are addicted to inhaling glue because it’s cheap and easily accessible. Lots of them can hold the bottles in their mouths like how smokers can hold a cigarette on their lips and talk.
Although when you first do it you feel sick, you get use to it and then get high (feel euphoric, it takes away your hunger, it apparently makes you not feel the cold, etc). Unfortunately, the substance is really toxic and has really bad effects on your brain (and they start at such a young age… ).
The other day I saw a 16 year old shaking like he had Parkinson’s due to too much glue sniffing and now his nervous system is damaged. Hurts your heart…
They cannot afford the $0.25-0.40 to get their hair cut at the barber shop…
This then led to this lizard being sought out from the surrounding bush and put on my leg. I was trying really hard to pretend I was all cool as it crawled up my leg as I didn’t want a bug to be next. Everyone thought it would be so hilarious…
Cool fact though – the lizard can move each eye about 300 degrees around and the eyes do not need to be in sync so one could be looking back & down while the other is looking forward & up!
After we surveyed all the bases at least twice, we moved out to other areas that street children and youth frequent. We went to the local food market, where many of them work selling plastic bags or push things with their trolleys. Alternatively, they come here to pick through the garbage for editable fruit & veggies.
The youth in the white hat sniffing glue is 18, but looks more like he is 14. He is stunted from the glue, not eating enough and just the harsh environment he grew up in. His name is Job and I’m a big fan as he has the nicest & brightest smile.
Also notice the other boy sniffing near the top of the photo… my guess is he is like 12.
This was taken at Saturday morning football outreach (another place we do our survey). Street children and youth come to play a few football matches (or sit around hanging out in a safe environment) and, at the end, Tumaini supplies them with milk and bread.
We went to one woman’s house (the one wearing my brown cap) and lots of street mothers came. The street mothers are a special sub-population among street children & youth… one that Tumaini works really hard to engage with currently limited success.
These women often have multiple children, limited education and almost never a job so they spend all their time trying to get enough money to feed and provide shelter for their children (thus it’s hard to get them to come to Tumaini and engage in the program).
Many of the street youth have small homes – more like single rooms. They are about the size of bathroom with a bathtub in a house in Canada. They have the bedroom, kitchen and sitting room all in one with a shared outside bathroom the row of houses. The doors don’t touch the ground and there are cracks the walls…
There are also never white people in this area so I made 3 children cry when they saw me… one even ran as fast as she could behind the building she was standing at. Like she saw a ghost…
It’s cool because you can buy all your fruits and vegetables at the local market for super cheap as well as eggs (their local eggs are so freaking good!). You can buy a live chicken, but killing a chicken is not happening. You then go to a grocery store to get diary, bread and other dry items (i.e. coffee, tea, cereal, floor, grains)
You go to the butcher to get meat and they hack it off right in front of you (you can get cow and goat at most places… I heard you can get pork somewhere, but I haven’t found this place yet. Probably because I haven’t looked eh?).
To celebrate 10 days of intense surveying, we went to an Indian restaurant for lunch on Friday. Dan had never had Indian and it’s my absolute favourite food so I felt it was essential to remedy this little tragedy.
Dan was a fan!