Chisomo is working to meet the needs of street children. This page explains the street child phenomenon as experienced in Lusaka and Zambia.

Who is a child of the street?
It is a boy or girl under the age of eighteen living or working on the street, parks, market places, and any public place. There are two types of children on the street:

  • Those that come to the street during the day to ‘work’.
  • Those who live on the street.

Children who come to work on the street go to the street in order to sell or carry baggage for the public for little pay. Some children come to street just to beg from the public. Their earnings are usually taken home to feed a sick mother or help a grand parent who may be too old to work for the family.

The second group is the one that has made the street their home. They work, beg, steal, fight and even die on the street. Usually it is those children who might have started by coming to the street to fend for themselves and the family that later make the street their home.

Why do children live or work on the street?

Children decide to live on the street because of:

  1. The high poverty levels in Zambia today (official figures show 70% of the people in Zambia live on less than a dollar a day).
  2. The loss of parents due, to among other diseases, HIV & AIDS.
  3. The disintegration of the extended family system that served as a safety-net for the orphans and other vulnerable children.
  4. Inadequate school places in the country.
  5. Rebellion.
  6. Escaping from abusive home environment.
  7. Peer pressure.
  8. There are no recreational facilities in the country.

What are some of the characteristics of children of the street?
When children first come to the street, they are innocent like any other child. But later become fearful, abusive, manipulative, resentful, etc. However, they are also resourceful, respectful, loyal to those who seem to take an interest in them and their friends, kind, etc.

What are the needs of children of the street?
The needs of children of the street are varied and complex in nature. The Children’s need are driven by their physical circumstances, including:

  1. Inadequate food & clean drinking water.
  2. No access to health facilities.
  3. Lack of clothing.
  4. No access to school opportunities.
  5. No parental guidance/ support.
  6. Lack of shelter.
  7. No physical security-susceptible to physical and sexual abuse.