Street food and street kids
NCASS director Bob Fox is a trustee of a charity called Meal a Day and looks after a Sierra Leone in West Africa on their behalf visiting the country, setting up and monitoring projects once or twice a year.
The charities latest project launching this February is to rescue 20 abandoned children off the streets of the capital Freetown. No one knows how many street kids there are in Sierra Leone, it is suspected that there are over 1000 in the capital Freetown alone.
There are a number of reasons why children end up on the streets in one of the poorest countries in the world, some run away because they have been abused, some because they have been passed onto extended families because their parent can’t afford to feed them, and then get pressed into forced labor in the home or the markets, some are trafficked from the villages to become street hawkers or prostitutes from a young as 5 or 6 years old.
They all have a story to tell and usually fall into the hands of older children or adults called brass and sissies (brothers and sisters) who have only one reason to befriend a street kid, exploitation. Once in the hands of the brass and sissies they are expected to work 12-14 hrs day or more likely be introduced to petty crime, solvent abuse and gang activities often with extreme violence and sexual exploitation as a reward for non-compliance.
Young street girls are particularly vulnerable and are often picked up from the streets on a promise of a better life and education only to be trafficked to other towns or African countries for the purposes of domestic slavery or prostitution.
The Meal A Day Street Kids Project will commence in 2012 initially with 20 kids taken from the streets of Freetown. Our aim is wherever possible is to re unite them with their families, clothe them, feed them one square meal a day and get them to school at our facility at Congo Cross on the West side of the city, which will act as a day center after school hours and weekends, when they will get extracurricular activities and religious education.
We believe that beyond the daily physical needs, education is the best tool we can give them to help them out of the poverty trap which is the root cause most of their problems.
If we can raise enough money and the project is successful we intend to expand it as far as the resources will allow maybe even providing a night shelter facility for those that cannot be re united with their families, to keep them off the streets and away from the brass and sissies.
Our intention is to concentrate on the younger children, that haven’t yet become too indoctrinated into the way of street life as studies have shown that the longer they are on the streets the less likely they are to be able to adapt to normal family life.
Meal a Day is an entirely voluntary charity, with the exception of the male and female in Freetown who are doing the day to day running of the project and are paid under £50 per month each.