NGOs team up to keep street children off glue

2014-06-19 00:00

NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisations (NGOs) in Pietermaritzburg have begun a fight to rid the city of the problematic glue-sniffing “street kids”.

This is an initiative that was assigned to the NGOs by Business Fighting Crime (BFC) after they noticed that there were many street children loitering on the streets through watching footage from CCTV cameras placed all over the city.

Executive director of Community Chest, Michael Deegan, said they were approached by Business Fighting Crime to come up with a strategy to remove street children, “because this is a societal problem and requires everybody to come up with ways to resolve the challenges faced by these kids”.

Deegan said in their previous meetings they were inspired by the expertise of Tom Hewitt, who is world renowned for his success working with street children in Durban, by turning them into surfers.

Deegan said Hewitt came up with a programme where street children went surfing for two hours in the morning and evening.

He said the programme left them tired and they would return to their shelter, too exhausted to continue sniffing glue.

The third best surfer in the country at present is a former street child who went through this programme.

Deegan said the surfing programme took about a year to reach the required success of getting the children off the glue.

“We plan to come up with a similar strategy to get these children to perform high intensity activity which they will be interested in and also find them a shelter,” he said.

He said they would be developing a city-wide strategy led by the Department of Social Development, Msunduzi Municipality and working with experienced people from NGOs that have already been dealing with issues of street kids for years.

He said they will be submitting their proposal to BFC with the hope of getting the

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business on board to help solve the street children problem.

Sally Mann, director of Youth for Christ (YFC), said they already provide skills development training for children under the age of 18, which was going relatively smoothly.

“Our challenge is to provide for the older guys and girls who have been on the streets for a greater number of years,” she said.

Mann added that in order to develop successful programmes they need the support of both business and government because of the expenses involved in developing these programmes.

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