Street children: A conceptual approach

C.R.E.E.R.: brief # 1

By Sébastien Jadot – Policy Analyst, C.R.E.E.R

Forewords

It is always a privilege to be a part of a new project. It is even more rewarding when the project is teamed with partners from a variety of backgrounds that are all related in one way or another to Africa. All of us at C.R.E.E.R. have put our experience in African affairs together to make a positive change in the lives of children in Côte d’Ivoire. The phenomenon of street children that is dear to C.R.E.E.R. is a rather complicated topic to discuss and even more so to debate as it touches upon the very fabric of the state; that of its future – of its children.

Street children: Why the briefs?

While people may be familiar with C.R.E.E.R. and the organization’s goals, some may be less familiar with the intrinsic relationships between street children and the social, political, economic or even cultural variables that are interwoven within the street children discourse. The briefs will provide development updates, testimonies and policy analysis, to name a few, that will help to better grasp the necessity for decision makers in Côte d’Ivoire to put the street children phenomenon on the national agenda. We also aim to provide you with as many updates as possible on what C.R.E.E.R. is doing on the ground.

The first brief reflects on the street children phenomenon as a nebulous and often catch-all term that even policymakers find hard to define. While street children are visible, they often remain in the shadows of a definitional maze that has international organizations face a cultural relativism wall of how children are perceived in their respective country.

Street children : Who are they?

Finding an official definition for ‘street children’ is extremely difficult. Human rights practitioners from various backgrounds have, for decades, tried to propose alternative definitions of street children. Many of these definitions have evolved with time and have been refined by the continuing research in multidisciplinary social sciences, policymaking, media exposure to name a few that continue the exploration of the street children phenomenon.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) presents a tridimensional categorisation of ‘street children’:

  • Children ‘of’ the street (presently framed as street-living children), who live on the street, are functionally without their family support;

  • Children ‘on’ the street’ (presently framed as street-working children), who work on the streets and go home their family at night;

  • ‘Street-family children’ who live with their family on the street.1

A most common definition for ‘street children’ was proposed by Inter-Ngo in 1983: “Any girl or boy who has not reached adulthood, for whom the street in the widest sense of the word, including unoccupied dwellings, wasteland, and so on, has become his or her habitual abode and/or source of livelihood, and who is inadequately protected, directed, and supervised by responsible adults.”2 The term was later used by the Commission on Human Rights in 1994.3

Today, however, the definition has become more encompassing of new realities. In its latest 2012 report, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in partnership with UNICEF, the Consortium for Street Children, and Aviva reported that today “‘street children’ is understood as a socially constructed category that, in practice, does not constitute a homogeneous population, making the term difficult to use for research, policymaking and intervention design.”4 For the Committee on the Rights of the Child “children in street situations” has become the term of choice as is the term “children with street connections” all of which still compete with older terms. The definitional maze is thus alive and well.5

C.R.E.E.R. acknowledges that street children form a fluid and dynamic group that is often marginalized from having a positive participation in the life of their country or host country. This happens despite the fact that street children are active economic agents of a country’s economy, a detail often overlooked and eclipsed by the role played by adults.6 All too frequently, street-children face enormous challenges in gaining access to education, health care but also face violence and exploitation on the street and often in the very institutions tasked to protect them. These impediments greatly reduce the potential for access to social, political and economic opportunities.

Arguably, the narrative will vary with location; from the urban city centres, to the suburbs or in remote rural areas with always an emphasis on local support from both the formal-official channels and informal power structure such as local chiefs, religious leaders. Moreover, adversities such as conflict, climate change and natural disasters, migration, urbanisation, economic hardship, gender discrimination are a few examples that continue to shape the street children debate. The complexity of properly addressing street children at the political base thus confirms the need to effectively unite and garner support from all actors of the civil society. Tackling such phenomenon is thus anything but an easy task. The latter is worsened when decision makers, for a variety of reasons, choose not to or simply fail to intervene, thus putting in jeopardy their country’s very own future; its children; their next generation What is important to note here is that the complexity and specificity of these realities must always be observed through a multi-sectoral approach that avoids the simplification of a phenomenon that cannot be blamed on a single issue.

Street children : Deconstructing the prejudice

A major critic of the street children phenomenon is that it tends to be categorised under a single negative connation that often times eclipses the multidimensional realities that are at play within a particular area where street children are found. The observation is shared by various scholars who emphasize the importance of deconstructing “the concept of street child” which has come to be associated with a life of crime and delinquency.7 A mistake when it is the street that often becomes the child’s unique mean of survival and education. The key element here is to evaluate how street children’s life can be bettered vis à vis a society that has often put them aside. It is exactly because street children’s social status is ranked very low that they are limited in their access to the structure of society. Social and economic exclusions represent a pool of grievances that can quickly be turned into a powerful tool for political destabilisation of which children often become easily coerced into joining.  Sierra Leone or Liberia are perfect illustration of how youth, many of them street children, were coerced into joining militias.

A negative trend has worsened in recent years in part because of conflict, economic hardship, climate-change related factors; that of child trafficking. Based on C.R.E.E.R.’s conceptual approach, trafficked children fall within the social and economic actor category with many of them fitting the street children narrative. While many factors may impact the nature of how and why children are trafficked, a nefarious reality becomes evidently visible on the streets when one actually takes the time to understand that behind every street child there is a story – of which trafficking is but one component.

C.R.E.E.R. – moving beyond invisible children

Human trafficking is the story that C.R.E.E.R. has undertaken to address and with it that of trafficked children. They are invisible to us, nothing can set them apart, but the reality for many street children goes back to that of trafficking. They may occupy jobs as hawkers, street vendors-traders, some may have run away from their place of employment, while others may be forced into prostitution with only the street as exit strategy. With only the street as backdrop, street children struggle to regain their status in society and many, due to a lack of government oversight, fail to aptly use their social capital and skills because of the trafficking stigma. Their stories continue to fuel the street children definitional debate of who is responsible, who is to intervene and who is to prevent trafficking from continuing.

C.R.E.E.R. firmly believes that results can only be achieved with the full support of the authorities at the local, regional and national level along with the participation of grassroots movements. International support is but the logistic linkage that helps facilitate the process of policy implementation. Trafficking is not a result of a particular policy but rather the sum of a myriad of factors that lead children to be trafficked in the first place. Therefore, C.R.E.E.R. is not to replace the state in terms of stopping trafficking but to provide the foundation by which sustainable solutions can be further developed into policies. Such development would first and foremost enhance trafficked street children’s potential for reintegration into society by providing them with a way to reunite with their families and by providing skills, education which are quintessential factors to casting off the social stigma attached to them both at home and in their new environment.

1 UNICEF, 1985. Worksheet for the Regional Operating Plan for Abandoned and Street Children. UNICEF, Geneva.

2 Inter-NGO Programme on Street Children and Street Youth, Sub-regional seminar for the Mediterranean, Marseilles, 24th-27th October 1983: summary of proceedings.

3 ‘The plight of street children’, A/RES/49/212, United Nations, 23 December 1994, http://www.un.org.

4 ‘Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the protection and promotion of the rights of children working

and/or living on the street’, United Nations, 11 January 2012, http://www.ohchr.org.

5Ibid.

6 Levison, D., 2000. Children as economic agents. Feminist Economics 6(1), pp. 125-134.

7 Wiencke, M., 2008. Theoretical reflections on the life world of Tanzanian street children. Anthropology Matters Journal, 10(2), pp. 1-24.

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An Interview with Nikki – volunteer fundraiser

18 months ago, I became involved with C.R.E.E.R by pure chance. Someone suggested that perhaps people could come up with ideas for fundraising. So, after a few glasses of wine, I piped up “Why don’t we have our own Olympics?”! Talk about being jumped on! So it came to pass that I got asked to help organise this and come up with the games! Thank goodness for locals here – they were brilliant, and within a few weeks we had volunteers for everything! Posters, BBQ, cake stall, bar, etc., were all sorted and a date was set. We even had medals for all the 1st, 2nd & 3rd places in each game!
Nikki
Although it was windy and not all that warm, lots of kids turned up (with assorted parents & grandparents in tow), and the games commenced. What surprised me most was the amount of support we received for C.R.E.E.R, both from the participants and the volunteer force! Everyone was aware of what the day was for, why these trafficked children NEED help so desperately and how they could play their part even while they were enjoying themselves!
The games were a hit, C.R.E.E.R coffers benefitted from a not insubstantial amount and the whole exercise was considered a success – so much so, that this year we’re having the World Games! I feel privileged to be a part of this organisation and I will be lending my support in any way I can for as long as I can! This has to be one of the most deserving causes I have ever been involved with and I would say to anyone who has any doubts, don’t hesitate, join in and be part of this truly wonderful cause.
Thanks to Nikki, the Olympics became a massive success in our small village in France; even the Tour de France sponsors ‘Ibis Hotels’ helped out on the day!  Not only did she create the Olympics which is now becoming an annual event but she also helps us fundraise with lost property items!

Positive moves in the right direction … time will tell! But still no one looking at the situation with the children that are living on the streets having escaped their situation or those being trafficked across the border! We mustn’t forget, C.R.E.E.R started due to ‘M’ who was in domestic servitude. The figures to find out the ratio of trafficking victims that go into cocoa, domestic servitude or prostitution would be interesting but probably very difficult to obtain and verify!

clccgOn March 12, 2013 nearly 100 interested stakeholders met to discuss the progress made in the last year by the programs of the Joint Declaration of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, towards reducing child labor in the cocoa sectors of Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.

The Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG) task force came together in September 2010 to support the implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol with the goal of reducing the worst forms of child labor across the cocoa sectors of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire by 70 percent by 2020.  

The CLCCG includes representatives from the US government (Senator Harkin, Congressman Engel, Department of Labor), The Ivorian government, the Ghanaian government, and the chocolate industry.  The US DOL has pledged to support this initiative with $10 million and the industry has pledged $7 million, with an additional $3 million in potential increases to existing projects meeting the goals of the Harkin-Engel Protocol.

Tuesday’s meeting presented an opportunity for all participants to report out…

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Excellent piece on the situation!  Please think about the origin of your chocolate this Easter!

Listen Girlfriends!

With Valentine’s Day behind us and Easter just a few weeks away, I thought there was no better time to write a post on the chocolate industry than now, when ‘chocolate season’ seems to be in full bloom. Even though it may seem that I am taking somewhat of a detour from my current series on fashion by writing about all things cocoa, the fact is, the chocolate and textile industries share much in common. Both produce things that give people around the world pleasure, and yet that pleasure often comes at a cost. My previous posts on fashion, conflict minerals and technology have attempted to reveal the obstacles in maintaining transparency across our global supply chains, and chocolate is no exception here. If glamor is a facade that often hides the exploitation behind the fashion industry, then the sweetness of chocolate found within the brightly foiled wrappers can…

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Link

Monday, March 18 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

Howard University

Welcome by Alfonzye Chisholm Jr., Director, Office of Sustainability, Howard University

NOTHING LIKE CHOCOLATE (USA/Grenada/Ivory Coast, 2012, 67 min.)Washington, D.C. Premiere   From currency to candy, chocolate reflects a rich history of sacred ritual, endorphin highs, hip anti-oxidants, exotic sensuality, high quality luxury and enslaved children. The film tells the compelling story of Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company Cooperative, as he pursues his unique vision to create the best chocolate in the world, ethically and taste-wise. Also featuring Nelice Stewart, an independent cocoa farmer in Grenada, the documentary shows how the Caribbean island of Grenada has become home to this revolutionary venture. In a world of mass-produced chocolate – often made with cocoa harvested by trafficked child labor – and bean prices that have fueled civil war in Africa, this artisanal small chocolate factory is fast becoming a serious competitor to industrial chocolate. The Grenada Chocolate Factory, a worker-owned cooperative, draws on solar power, employee shareholding and small-scale antique equipment to make delicious, organic, and socially conscious chocolate. Narrated by Susan Sarandon. Directedand produced by Kum-Kum Bhavnani.

FREE. No reservations required.  

Howard University, Digital Auditorium, Blackburn Student Center, 2397 Sixth St., NW (Metro: Shaw/Howard University) Campus shuttle from Shaw/Howard University Metro. All open parking lots on campus will be free after 5:00 p.m.

Link: ‘Nothing Like Chocolate’ Washington D.C. Premiere

An event not to be missed on MONDAY!  Wishing that our board in both Cote d’Ivoire & France were closer to Washington D.C.

This event has no relation to C.R.E.E.R or it’s boards but we are wanting to help spread the word!

The difference between Orphans and Trafficked Children

Following a conversation earlier with an organisation who has signed up to the Fair Labor Association; we realised the need to examine the ‘difference’ between an orphan and a trafficked child.

An orphan – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphan

A trafficked child – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafficking_of_children

“This can stem from a dangerous “movement” stage of trafficking or from specific aspects of the “exploitation” stage, such as hazardous working conditions. Moreover, trafficked children are often denied access to healthcare, effectively increasing their chances of serious injury and death.[2] Trafficked children are also often subject to domestic violence; they may be beaten or starved in order to ensure obedience.[2] In addition, these children frequently encounter substance abuse; they may be given drugs as “payment” or to ensure that they become addicted and thus dependent on their trafficker(s).[2] As opposed to many other forms of crime, the trauma experienced by children who are trafficked is often prolonged and repeated, leading to severe psychological impacts.[70] UN.GIFT reports that trafficked children often suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions.[70]

Effects on families are also severe. Some families believe that sending or allowing their children to relocate in order to find work will bring in additional income, while in reality many families will never see their trafficked children again.[2] In addition, UN.GIFT has found that certain forms of trafficking, particularly sexual exploitation in girls, bring “shame” to families.[70] Thus, in certain cases, children who are able to escape trafficking may return to their families only to find that they are rejected and ostracized.”

Orphans can be trafficked, trafficked children are put to work.

Trafficked children often have higher emotional & educational needs.

The two groups need different attention & support.

C.R.E.E.R is working for trafficked children, orphans or not!  The need for such a centre has already been identified on the ground in Cote d’Ivoire & Ghana due to the lack of these two critical elements of emotional & educational support for ‘our’ group of children.

Your assistance to rehabilitate these children is appreciated in whatever form it may be available!

Easter chocolate; your choice!

The supermarket shelves are stacked high with easter eggs already, four weeks before Easter Sunday!

Have you ever thought where many of these chocolate eggs originate from?

Comic Relief in the UK has ‘Red Nose Day’ approaching, prior to Easter; but we’ve yet to see a mention of child trafficking or assistance towards it.

We’re trying to build the centre to give long-term rehabilitation to the many children trafficked in West Africa, not just in cocoa plantations but also working as domestic servants and in prostitution.  Giving them the empowerment they deserve to lead normal adult lives, stopping the vicious circle of trafficking.

Could you help us reach our goal?

Could you help fundraise before Easter?

Could you circulate this post with your friends?

Thank you!

See more here: http://wp.me/p3aqBS-2K

The sweet potato or ‘kumara’ in NZ could be an essential part of our centre farming! Another great post from ThirdEyeMom!

Thirdeyemom

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.31.23 PM

Today I am honored to be collaborating with a group of women bloggers on behalf of ONE, a non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable diseases, to increase awareness about world hunger.

ONE asks:

“How can it be that 40% of Africa’s children are so chronically malnourished by the age of five that they will never fully thrive, physically recover or mentally develop – and this has not improved in two decades, despite so much other development progress?

********************************************************

MALNUTRITION: FAST FACTS

  • In 2010, 171 million children under the age of five had stunted growth (chronically malnourished)[1]
  • Every year, malnutrition causes 3.5 million child deaths – or more than one third of all deaths of children under the age of five[2]
  • More than 600,000 children die each year from vitamin A deficiency[3]
  • 2 billion people are anemic, including every second pregnant woman and…

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Green building materials?

It all got rather exciting today.

We found a project for a floating school in Lagos in Nigeria http://ht.ly/hMEpg although this wouldn’t be ideal for land-based C.R.E.E.R it was the start of a trail.

It led to an orphanage in South Africa that has been built from shipping containers; which then incited a call to the architects in Johannesburg who assured us that even in a tropical climate; it is possible to keep containers cool.  They suggested looking up an architect, Adam Kalkin which initially led to this site:  http://www.residentialshippingcontainerprimer.com/howto then onto www.quik-build.com which is Adam Kalkin’s own site.

Another call to Germany to talk to Frankie our builder, who has already been involved in container conversion; he has got excited with the prospect too!

So using our original plans, there’s a possibility of creating the two dormitories, bathroom block and other living spaces with the containers – the possibilities are endless!   The whole container site would be covered by a roof that has solar panels; together with rainwater collection and possibly compost waste sanitation, we aim to be as green as possible.

We found an article about dry composting in Haiti after the earthquake that might be possible to use; we’re discussing it with a few experts in the subject currently: http://humanurehandbook.com/downloads/Public_Sanitation_Using_Hot_Composting.pdf

Now to find a friendly company ideally in Cote d’Ivoire who might want to help us out with finding containers so we can recycle them!  Or we’re back to the drawing board with bricks & mortar!

CNN’s view on child trafficking in Cote d’Ivoire

What mustn’t be forgotten, although the last few posts have been about cocoa, don’t forget ‘M’ who inspired us to set up C.R.E.E.R to be a safe shelter to educate the children.

She was trafficked but worked in domestic servitude we believe.

As well as cocoa, there’s trafficking for domestic servitude, prostitution & many other areas that the children are trafficked for and become like bonded slaves. They’ve left home often believing they are going to start a new life and to gain an education.

The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery

In “Chocolate’s Child Slaves,” CNN’s David McKenzie travels into the heart of the Ivory Coast to investigate children working in the cocoa fields. (More information and air times on CNN International.)

By David McKenzie and Brent Swails, CNN

Daloa, Ivory Coast (CNN) — Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul. He squats with a gang of a dozen harvesters on an Ivory Coast farm.

Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile.

Abdul is 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job.

He has never tasted chocolate.

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