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Our Goals


Our aim is to ensure the voice of street children is heard within the community at local, national and international levels, as well as developing the engagement of community and local government in support of our work.

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Our Goals


Our aim is to ensure the voice of street children is heard within the community at local, national and international levels, as well as developing the engagement of community and local government in support of our work.

Our Approach

 

Every person should receive the opportunity to be heard.
aT CHeka Sana we endeavour to listen and respond appropriately to each individual without negativity or judgement. 


A Solutions Focused Approach

When dealing with children and families, we ensure to proceed with a non-judgemental approach, and that therapeutic responses for those in our care make a positive and sustainable transformation to their lives. 

We fully support developing and training our employees in this regard, with a clear focus on solutions based social welfare; defining clear outcomes for the individual and then working together to bring about meaningful change. As part of this process we also actively engage with families and community leaders; working closely with them to describe the benefit and importance of positive discipline and quality child protection as core cultural values. It is only in conjunction with the broader community that lasting change can be brought about for the street children we aim to help.

 
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The Need


There is a very real need for our services in Mwanza. Due to complex socio-economic factors across the country, children are being pushed from home to live on the streets. These vulnerable individuals are then at real risk of violence, deteriorating health and sexual exploitation. Street life is never a good choice in our opinion.

The Need


There is a very real need for our services in Mwanza. Due to complex socio-economic factors across the country, children are being pushed from home to live on the streets. These vulnerable individuals are then at real risk of violence, deteriorating health and sexual exploitation. Street life is never a good choice in our opinion.

ONE OF THE MAIN LONG TERM CHALLENGES THAT CONTINUES TO PUT CHILDREN ON THE STREET IS THE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT THAT IS PRESENT IN TANZANIA. 


The resources of Social Welfare are extremely limited and personal wealth is unevenly distributed causing significant rural depopulation and community de-stabilisation.

Children on the Street in Mwanza

Source: 2013 Railway Children Street Survey; Mwanza
 

CSF works to reduce the number of children living on the street and build a better relationship between street children, their families, relatives and their community. Our key activities in this regard are; outreach, our girl's centre, football and street skillz, our streetborn programme for young mothers and their babies, reintegration work and advocacy. Together, these form our integrated and holistic approach to engage with & support street connected children & young people.


WHY DO CHILDREN END UP ON THE STREET?

Broken Marriages

When a husband divorces and remarries, the new wife who comes to live in his house with children from the previous marriage. They will often be badly beaten, not given food, and forced out of the house due to the situation they are put in. The street would feel good compared to what they are experiencing at home.

Poverty at home

Many families in the Mwanza region live in extreme poverty, so children can often run away to try and find a better life. Possibly just going out to initially work on the street and going on to then live fully on the street. Children can also run away as they feel they are not getting things at home, for example if a child is not being sent to school they may try running away to find a solution, earn money and go to school.

Lack of Support

Often parents can be away for long periods of time, perhaps they are away with work or they may be in hospital or with a relative. This leads to the child feeling neglected and being poorly looked after by older siblings, neighbours or friends. 


CSF  recent research believes over 30 children have been killed by their biological and step parents. To escape this happening, many children are forced to escape and rely on the street for basic needs.


What are the risks of living on the street?

While relying on the street they experience a poor quality of life, main problems being:

Crime

Street children can often be coerced into delivering and dealing drugs – in Mwanza these are mainly glue and cannabis (rarely hard drugs like cocaine). 

Street youth can also be involved in stealing, even very small things and the punishment in Tanzania is very serious, if caught someone can potentially be killed in the street. Street children can often be blamed for stealing items just by being around where the crime has happened. So just being around street crime can be very dangerous indeed.

Community separation

Especially pertinent for older members of the street community and those who have been on street longer (over 6 months). A street community can form as young people become more and more excluded from day-to-day services, relying on each other for help and support. People often have a lack of understanding and empathy for street children and what they go through, leading to them being labelled, which stigmatises the individual and hampers future integration.

Lack of education

While living and relying on the street, the children are begging to get enough money for food just to survive. They are unable to pay for school contributions or uniforms or any equipment to go along to school, thus are unable to gain an education to give them hope improving their life. Not having an education often means fewer opportunities in the future and less chance of being reintegrated back into their families.

Lack of basic hygiene & supplies

Not having access to food, clean drinking water, education and medical care leads to a huge amount of health issues for street involved children. Life threatening illnesses can become part of day to day life with many of the boys admitted to the street children’s centres suffering from malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis and dysentery. Worms are a huge problem with almost all street involved children suffering the affliction.

Sexual Abuse 

One of the big problem encountered on the street is peer to peer gang rape as initiation ceremonies from as young as 8 years old. This is a big problem as it can be seen as ‘normal’ behaviour, where children entering centres can see it is normal to rape others to make friends. Sexual abuse can also come from older men and street guys, something which can be more traumatic than peer-to-peer rape as it is often forceful and violent.

For girls, commercial sex and HIV are major issues, including abuse if employed as a house cleaner.

Physical Abuse

Other abuse is all too common, street children can be chased at night just for trying to find a place to shelter and sleep and if caught, they can be beaten and also subject to other abuse such as sexual exploitation.

This abuse is a real issue for street children, with known brutal killings of street children every year by local people as a result of a child being accused of stealing. Even though Tanzanian law protects unlawful/indecent assault of children, this is still a major problem.

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Our History


Formerly Caretakers of the Environment Tanzania (COET), The Cheka Sana Foundation builds on a legacy of understanding and progressive approaches that deal with the broader issues of street children in Mwanza.

Our History


Formerly Caretakers of the Environment Tanzania (COET), The Cheka Sana Foundation builds on a legacy of understanding and progressive approaches that deal with the broader issues of street children in Mwanza.

 

Our History


The Cheka Sana Foundation, formerly Caretakers of the Environment Tanzania (COET), was registered as a Regional NGO in Mwanza in 2007, founded by a Tanzanian teacher, Mutani Yangwe. The organisation was formed with an idea to develop services for impoverished and street related children in the Mwanza area.

When a local home for street children called Kuleana, got into financial difficulty, COET stepped in to prevent its closure and the children having to return to the streets. COET aimed to support all the children residing at the centre with their basic needs, as well as developing further programmes to support street involved children in Mwanza - and in so doing we developed the core of our successful reunification strategies that we use today at our Girls Centre, Cheka Sana. Sadly Kuleana closed in 2014, and we are currently in planning for it's replacement for boys.

Kuleana gave us a unique opportunity to see the broader issues facing street children in Mwanza - and this vantage point helped us in setting up additional initiatives;

 

In 2009, we established the Tanzanian Street Children Sports Academy (TSC), aimed at providing vulnerable children in the community with access to sports, as well as providing street children with a support base, including basic support and access to healthy activities, while coinciding with our other projects which provide reunification and family therapy. Read more about the current TSC here.

In 2010, the team working at the boy’s home developed a reunification plan for the street children who we were supporting. This involved employing a number of social workers who providing counselling to the children and developing our listening social work model, that is the key to our current approach and success rates.

In 2012, a new project was formed called Streetborn for street based teenage mothers. At that time, no care had been provided to this target group. The girls under this programme are aged between 12-20 years and are either involved in commercial sex work and/or experience sexual abuse at the hands of men on the streets. This programme focused mainly on providing initial medical support to the young women and pre- and post-natal care. Read more about Streetborn here.


We continue to hone our approaches to the complex issues we, and the individuals we aim to help, face. In so doing we continue to collaborate both nationally and internationally to be sure we remain relevant, up-to-date and effective. At CSF, the learning never stops!

If you would like to find out more about our organisation, our approach or any of the individuals involved, then please get in touch with us here.


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