What are street children ?

When you ask someone, “Could you give a definition of a street child?" Mostly, the answer will be something like: “street children are orphans living on the street twenty-four hours a day”. Partly, they are right. There are children living like that. But this kind of street life is just one form of living on the street. There are lots of children who have a family and they go to the street to earn some money.

A more accurate definition of street children is defined by UNICEF in 1985:

“A street child is any boy or girl who has not reached adulthood for whom the street (in the widest sense of the word, including unoccupied dwellings, wasteland etc.) has become her or his habitual abode and/or sources of livelihood and who is inadequately protected, supervised or directed by responsible adults.”

UNICEF provides

three categories of street children:

  1. "Candidates for the street", children working on the streets but living with their families.

  2. "Children on the street" with inadequate and/or sporadic family support.

  3. "Children of the street", those functionally without family support'.

Not every child fits in those merely theoretic categories. Some children, for example, sleep sometimes with their families and sometimes on the street. But the categories show something about the huge difference that exist between street children.

The work of Gugma sa Kabataan is focused on street children from all different categories. The children in the day-care centre are mostly from category one and two. These children are part of a community, they see examples of children who are going to school and they have a strong longing for a better live. That is why these children are often more motivated to go to school and to give up their lives on the street than the children from the third category. Gugma sa Kabataan can help them to make their dream of having a live without the street, come true.

But also the children from the third category are not forgotten. Sick children are brought to the doctor and street children who are brought to jail will get soap and shampoo and English classes  by Gugma sa Kabataan.