Kenya: Street Kids Plead for Healthcare, IDs

Nairobi Street Families Consortium chairperson Peter Ndiboe said they should be considered for the universal health care being rolled out by the government as all lives matter and none should be lost because of discrimination.

He pointed out that the government policy on universal health care should not be discriminative but apply to all citizens and that the government, through the Ministry of Health, should see to it that they are also catered for.

"Street families are also human beings, they need access to better healthcare just like any other Kenyan, they are prone to various illnesses owing to their lifestyle. We also need food especially this time of Covid-19 when getting food in the street is next to impossible," said Mr Ndiboe, a reformed street family.

A 2018 survey by the State Department for Social Protection put the number of street families in Nairobi at slightly more than 10,000 but the consortium estimates that there are approximately 60,000 street families in the capital city.

The street families also want the government to issue them with identification documents as they are also eligible citizens of Kenya and access to ID cards, birth certificates, and Huduma Namba cards should not be seen as sympathetic to them.

"They should not see themselves as aliens or people living in their own country illegally. This will enable them to seek employment anywhere in the country, participate or exercise their democratic rights of electing competent leaders," he said.

The consortium's Secretary-General Fatuma Shahenza urged the government to provide the street families with free education as well as empower them by imparting them with skills invaluable towards the development of the country.

She explained that the street families have different talents which can be nurtured and once empowered with skills, most of them can fend for themselves as well as create opportunities for others, reducing the baggage of unemployment in the country in the process.

"We have brains in the streets that if well nurtured can be of great help towards building one nation where plenty could be found within our borders. These young people need to be informed and imparted with skills to cope with challenges in life by engaging themselves in various projects," said Ms Shahenza, also a reformed street family having lived in the streets for 13 years.

She also pointed out that the national government needs to put more resources into the rehabilitation centres to make them feel welcoming to rescued street families, with accountability demanded for the funds allocated for the same.

"With proper security and human personnel in the homes, these young people will enjoy their stay in the centres. They also need a roof over their heads just like any other person," she said.

"We are a great nation that should not abandon these loving young men and women to wallow in abject poverty in the streets engaging in unlawful activities while resources are plenty," added the SG.

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