The vulnerability of children in Sierra Leone is unacceptably high as they suffer various forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect and their rights to survival, development, protection and participation are constantly violated. The issue of children living and or working on the streets has been of the gravest concern to the government, child protection actors and local authorities. The lack of access to basic health, education, and social protection programs forces parents to send their children to live with extended family members and sometimes strangers in urban settlements. Children living in kinship care are maltreated, exploited sexually and economically and are over-represented in cases of violence against children reported to the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police. They are mostly not supported in school and are forced to engage in livelihood activities to bolster family income. When children run away from home and live or work on the streets their protection is compromised and their vulnerability increases. The protection problems faced by children on the streets are cyclical and include the following:
- Lack of access to food leads to malnourishment and stunted growth
- Lack of access to health care services especially during health emergencies such as COVID-19 and Ebola
- Lack of access to schooling and vocational training and other opportunities for learning
- Lack of access to recreation, play and leisure
- Lack of access to protection services when they suffer abuse and violence on the streets
- Conflict with the law
- Sexual abuse and exploitation
- Discrimination in the community as they are feared to portray anti-social behaviour
- The lack of participation in nation-building and decision making
- Lack of identity as they are not usually registered in any of the national civil registration programs
- Alienation from family and community
At the level of children living and working on the streets Pull Pikin Na Trit For Lan will address the following protection problems:
- The disconnect with family members or caregivers
- Lack of access to education, vocational and skills training
- National civil registration to ensure the right to name and nationality
At the community level, the project will address the factors that push children to live and work on the streets:
- Poor parenting including neglect of and violence against children
- Child behavioural challenges and peer influence
- Sexual reproductive health of children living and working on the streets, especially for children who are engaged in commercial sex work.
At the institutional level Pull Pikin Na Trit For Lan will address:
- Awareness raising on laws and policies related to children
- Strengthening the capacity of the social welfare workforce to be able to support children living and working on the streets
- The lack of data and case management services for children living on the streets
St. George Foundation Sierra Leone in partnership with Toybox Pull Pikin Na Trit For Lan project will primarily target children living and working on the streets and secondarily target other children living in communities where street-connected children live or where they will be reunified. The primary beneficiaries will be children who spend the majority of their time on the streets; these will include children who work as porters, children who lead the blind, children engaged in commercial sex, children involved in different forms of labour including the worst forms of labour, children in conflict with the law, children working as conductors on commercial buses, children engaged in petty trading and children involved in gambling.
Secondary beneficiaries will include parents and caregivers of children living and working on
as well as children in communities where they will be reunified/reintegrated.
The Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and NGO staff in the consortium (Network for Street Children – Sierra Leone) will be targeted by this project as well. To ensure a sustainable response to the problem of children living and working on the streets it is important to strengthen the social welfare workforce to be able to support families in the prevention of separation as well as respond to the needs of children living and working on the streets.