CRW_WS-main.jpg
DSC02370.jpg
DSC00869.jpg
DSC01107.jpg
DSC02201.jpg
CRW_WS-main.jpg

About Cheka Sana


Cheka Sana residential centre is at the heart of what we're aiming to achieve – high impact and quality intervention for those street children who need the most help.

SCROLL DOWN

About Cheka Sana


Cheka Sana residential centre is at the heart of what we're aiming to achieve – high impact and quality intervention for those street children who need the most help.

logo-cheka-sana.jpg

Cheka Sana means 'Smiles alot' in Swahili - and that notion is very much at the core of what our girls centre is about. 

For the girls that live here, we use our time with them in continuing their education; helping them develop meaningful friendships; ensuring that their healthcare needs are met and above all; enabling them to flourish and rediscover who they are. It also gives us the opportunity to engage with the girls on an individual basis to explore the options for reunification with their families.


The girls who reside with us here have been, for the most part, habituated to street life - living with the very real threat of violence and sexual exploitation. As such they need a very gentle, supportive and safe environment in which to grow – and that is what we endeavour to supply at Cheka Sana. Needless to say, this is not an approach that can be rushed, or indeed 'templated' - each individual requires a considerable input of care and meaningful intervention to ensure that their needs are being met.

The girls at Cheka Sana are provided with basic school preparation classes focusing on reading, writing and mathematics skills, as the majority of the girls have not attended school before. In addition the girls are provided with other activities such as life skills sessions, arts and crafts, sports and gardening.

Crucially, each girl is provided with a dedicated period each week, one-to-one with their assigned case worker for ‘special time’. This time allows the girl to be really listened to and in so doing deal with the difficulties and traumatic experiences they have faced in their childhood and on the street. This time also enables the individual to begin to envisage a different way of life, allowing us to plan accordingly and develop our actions alongside the child.


Life at Cheka Sana girls centre

DSC02370.jpg

The Girls


Meet some of the Cheka Sana residents to get a better sense of what life is like on the streets of Mwanza for young girls.

The Girls


Meet some of the Cheka Sana residents to get a better sense of what life is like on the streets of Mwanza for young girls.

Mariam Dotto

9 YEARS OLD

Mariam has been living on the street for 3 years – and came to us in the spring of 2015. She originally took to the street when mother left with Mariam’s twin-sister to get married and left her with her father. Due to a gambling addiction he was incapable of looking after her – often going missing for several days at a time. As a result Mariam saw running to the street as her only option for food and support.

While on the street Mariam would often go hungry for extended periods, begging for money and food, which would often be taken from her by stronger street children and gangs of boys. For security she would try and sleep near street families (often with leprosy).

Mariam doesn’t wish to be repatriated with her family and she has no idea where she could stay. She would like to be able to visit her father and mother, but not with a view of staying with either of them. She is happy at Cheka Sana, though sometimes it is difficult with the elder girls. She feels they take advantage of her making her bring them food and tea – perhaps this is why Mariam would like to a policewoman when she grows up.


Loyce

12-14 years old (sometimes it’s hard to know) 

Loyce had been living on the street for about a year before joining us at Cheka Sana in the summer of 2015. Before her time on the street she was also very mobile, living with various families around Mwanza, but always returning to the street.

After being raped several times by male family members (father, grandfather and her brother, 16 years) and being sold by her grandmother in her local bar as a prostitute Loyce took to the street. Here experience of street life was just terrible. Grown ups continued in trying to coerce here to the sex trade and selling her on so she kept running from place to place to find protection.

Loyce really wants to visit her mother – she loves her very much. However, she’s aware she won’t be able to live with her as she is now together with another potentially dangerous man. Loyce is full of hate for all the other family members and for sure she won’t go back to this family. 

At Cheka Sana Loyce says she feels safe, though admits everyday is a real struggle for her – life is very, very hard and difficult for Loyce. Right now she is really struggling with her story and feels she has no value and is experiencing real pain. We feel that it’s the first time she has started talking about her past, so she is dealing with a great array of complex issues. As with all our girls at Cheka Sana it will take time for her to reconnect with her true self at which point she can start thinking about her future. As for now… she has no ideas about what she would like from life.


Sabina

13 years

Sabina ended up on the street in Mwanza as a result of being very badly beaten by her mother. Sabina has two brothers with whom she has lost contact after the mother had a series of failed relationships with new men and the family fell apart.

She lived on the street for about 2 years, coming to us in the summer of 2015. Sabina's life on the street was hard, as you might expect, but she developed a strong friendship that made things a little easier.

After a recent visit from her mother Sabina realises that she can’t go back to her, however, she would consider repatriation with her extended family, and we have yet to identify who. While she is happy and secure at Cheka Sana, she doesn’t envisage her future with us. She wants to be a teacher and she decided just lately that she wants to educate other people inside and outside of Cheka Sana about HIV-awareness – she is HIV+ and under medication.


Leticia

14 years

Leticia has become a real role model at Cheka Sana, her personality has been able to flourish here. She now has a clear vision of her future and is considering starting the repatriation process with a view to returning home, going to school and in the fullness of time would love to be a journalist.

Leticiia came to us in the early summer of 2015 having been on the streets for about 3 years. Her life there was extremely brutal and sexualised – having been raped by older street boys and coerced by older men looking for prostitutes. She was also badly beaten by the police having stolen a phone.

She originally turned to the streets having been badly beaten by her stepmother. She is from a large blended family, so repatriation is a real option for Leticia. When the time is right, we can begin the first stages of conversations with her family to explore the best and safest options for her


Anastazia

10 years

Anastazia has been on and off the street for many years – returning home, only to be harshly beaten by her father. Her father has 8 children with four women, so the domestic situation is complex for her.

As with our other girls street life was hard. She too was violently raped having been coerced with promise of food. Thankfully for her, this was a one off event that she was able to avoid in future.

Anastazia would like to be a doctor when she grows up and using this hope to help her battle her current demons – demons she personifies and that are telling her to do bad things. She has made a real connection with key staff here at Cheka Sana, so much so that she states she would consider repatriation under the promise that we would visit with her every week when back home. Which of course we would be delighted to do.

DSC00869.jpg

Reunification


Reunification, where possible is the ideal outcome for our children – reuniting them with their family and community to ensure a secure and healthy future.

Reunification


Reunification, where possible is the ideal outcome for our children – reuniting them with their family and community to ensure a secure and healthy future.

 

Our main goal at the cheka Sana Foundation is to tackle the issues that street children face by reuniting them with their families in a way that ensures, meaningful long-term relationships are developed and that the child is never again at risk.


Our reunification team carry this work out by firstly building a ‘friendship’ with these children, based on trust, respect and a sense of security. We work to ensure that each child has the opportunity to be listened to, to deal with traumatic experiences, to talk about their family situations and to gradually start thinking about their future - all in their own time. If the child is then keen to look at moving away from our centre then we can begin to explore what options are available with both immediate and extended family.

Each child’s case manager can best assess when and which processes are necessary to place the child to a safe home whether it is with immediate or extended family members or whether another option has to be sought such as longer term residential care. Depending on the child’s situation, our team will carry out home visits with the child which include implementing and holding family sessions, with the similar aim of building trusting and close relationships with each member of their family and supporting them in improving the relations and interaction within the family and the parenting skills used by the guardians.

These visits mean that we can assess the safety of each individual child within the family unit, as well as additional support that may be needed, such as family support packages and business grants. Once the child is reunified, the reintegration process and family work continues through regular monitoring and follow up visits.


Please note that presently we do not have a transitional residential centre for boys but we are in the process of applying for one. We have therefore been continuing this work through referring children to a transitional centre that another organisation within our partnership runs.

 
DSC01107.jpg

Community outreach


We also engage with local communities to help empower them and ideally prevent the issues that lead to children being forced from their homes...

Community outreach


We also engage with local communities to help empower them and ideally prevent the issues that lead to children being forced from their homes...

 

Community Outreach Work


This project works directly with 20 families a year who have low incomes and have children who are assessed as being at high risk of turning to the streets. We therefore work with the main caregiver of the family looking towards stable and sustainable incomes for them and their families so they can move out of extreme poverty and provide the basic essentials for their children.

We also work with the setting up of and facilitation of four self-help groups of women a year (of about 20 women within each group) within these same wards. The women run these groups themselves but we help the group with facilitating, training and provision of grants. Money is therefore established within the groups through the grants we provide and the small weekly contributions that each member within the group provides. The women have the opportunity to access an interest free loan from the group so that they can work towards more stability within their income generating activities and thus provide for their children.

Similar to the work within our reunification programme, we have the capacity to provide support to these families including small scale business grants, tools and training to set up bio-intensive farming, as well as the provision of school support to all of the children within the family and vocational support to the youth.

With this support, along with family support focusing on relationship building within the family, we aim to ensure that all children live safely and happily within their families, reducing the major risk of them turning to the streets. 

 
DSC02201.jpg

Our People


Cheka Sana is a hub of activity; our offices are here, we co-ordinate our outreach from here; we run staff training here and of course we get the girls as involved as we can when appropriate.

Our People


Cheka Sana is a hub of activity; our offices are here, we co-ordinate our outreach from here; we run staff training here and of course we get the girls as involved as we can when appropriate.

Not only is it a safe refuge for up to 20 girls from the streets in Mwanza, it is also our office and administrative base, so there is always plenty going on.



 

Our Senior Leadership Team

We have a senior management team made up of three members who all have a variety of different qualifications and experience in working in this environment. This includes the Programme Director, the HR & Operations Manager and the Finance Officer.

The team of social workers are made up of four main departments, in which each member focuses on specific target groups and/or community actors. Each team has a department co-ordinator who assists the team in developing weekly budgets and plans. We also have a team of support staff who provide a range of services from security, cooking and teaching for all the children we provide support for.

Profiles to follow