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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Discussions at Nestlé

Silence has prevailed for a few months, the C.R.E.E.R board have been busy with a number of projects for future fundraising.  On return from the founder’s visit from Cote d’Ivoire, we rang Nestlé again who were already aware of us, to explain what happened on the trip there.

Nestlé invited us to Vevey, their HQ in Switzerland at 10am on 9th July.  Train tickets for the Founder & Treasurer were duly booked & a hostel reservation was made.  The day of departure, the Treasurer wasn’t well with a bad back that had been a problem over the weekend.  On Monday 8th July, the Founder found herself alone boarding the train to Vevey via Geneva & Nimes.

After a long 11hour train trip with 3 changes, Vevey was in sight, a beautiful town on Lake Leman!

??????????DSCN2288??????????The meeting started at 10am,  Nestle has it’s own Avenue in Vevey; a short walk from the lovely ‘Grande Place’.  A presentation had already been put together for the meeting with a few extra support letters arriving at the last minute that needed printing out.

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Overall, the meeting went well, C.R.E.E.R is a ‘new’ NGO without a building as yet or children so the fact that Nestle’s door remains open is a positive.

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However a few questions were puzzling.  Without wanting to explicity say ‘there are trafficked children on cocoa farms in Cote d’Ivoire (which we are SURE you are aware of)’ there were a few questions that were raised in regards as to ‘where’ the children for the centre would appear from.

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Surely this is obvious, there are children out there that have runaway from their enslavement and living on the streets.  There are children that are arriving at the borders that need specialist assistance & not to be put in an orphanage.  There are also those children that may hear of us & come to us.  However C.R.E.E.R will not be visiting farms to extract children from cocoa farmers, this would cause chaos!

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A second issue was the repatriation.  C.R.E.E.R will be working with other organisations both on a governmental level & in terms of iNGO’s such as UNICEF, Oxfam etc to ensure that repatriation will give a solid future for each child.  Of course we cannot assess & are not ‘gods’ to make the decision for each child but we aren’t prepared to repatriate a child to a home where the family may re-sell that child or they aren’t accepted into the community.  Those that ‘can’t’ go home for whatever reason will be offered a place on a long term basis in the centre; but this won’t be our work, it will be the work of external organisations to ensure their future.

Trafficking WAfrica

Another point that was raised was why the government aren’t carrying out this project.  It was clearly stated that the government had built two centres for a total cost of US$206,000 & had written about this in the US AID TIP 2013 which they then refused to acknowledge any donations as their trafficking problem would be kept in-house.  The centre that we visited in 2011 during the crisis was built in a shantytown.  It had never been used, it was vandalised, people were squatting on the land with their own buildings … need we go on???  Sorry, but Nestlé, had you done your homework on this?

Centre de l'Etat

We were touched by the letter from Mr. Outtara, a Director of a governmental agency that we met in Abengourou who strongly wrote in our favour.  As well as many other supporters including our US based Ghanaian consultant.

Support from all our followers is still needed to ensure that Nestlé as well as other companies support our mission, that we can get this project off the ground!

Thanks for continuing to follow us!

Dreams realised after five days work in Cote d’Ivoire

Arranging a trip to Cote d’Ivoire via Ghana in under a week is not for the faint-hearted, particularly when your visa for Ghana has expired! This is what happened just prior to Easter.  The decision was made by C.R.E.E.R’s board that unless one of the board was on the ground in Cote d’Ivoire, nothing would move forward.  The only option due to flights was to go via Accra. Thanks to good friends of C.R.E.E.R’s in London, one of the Founder’s passports was sent in advance to obtain another 2 year multiple entry visa for Ghana, to be issued in 24hours.

A quick turnaround in London and landed in Accra on the Wednesday evening.  A lot of pleading on the Thursday before Good Friday (a public holiday in Ghana), the Ivorian Embassy went out of their way to assist the passage by bending all the rules.  C.R.E.E.R’s founder managed to get a visa in 5hours rather than the normal 3 days due to the exceptional circumstances.  Luckily the consul remembered the face having given a visa during the 2010/2011 crisis after much pleading then! Accra - Abobo Travelling by public transport to the Ghana-Ivorian border at Elubo/Noe on a public holiday is never all that enjoyable especially with an early 5am start!  Finally at 7pm (14hrs later) on Good Friday evening C.R.E.E.R was re-united in Bassam with our Ivorian Director, Erick after 2 years of only contact over the internet and phone!  After a mere 5 changes of transport to get there in the hot, cramped, uncomfortable conditions West African bush taxis always offer!

The few long 18+hr days of work started in earnest the next day with a base in the Abobo district of Abidjan.  An Ivoirian board meeting didn’t go as planned due to various family commitments but we saw all the board members that Easter weekend around Abidjan. Monday morning; another early start to travel to Abengourou, a mere 193km away, however the road after Adzope is in a bad state.  Four hours later, sore from the tightly packed minibus with homemade metal framed seats (& poor padding) we arrived in town.  The founder had previously visited Abengourou in 2009 and remembered a few landmarks, but now we had to explore the town thoroughly to see it’s suitability.Abobo Abidjan - Abengourou Erick had carried out a lot of the groundwork for C.R.E.E.R since last seeing him during the Ivorian crisis in January 2011.  Our latest news was that King Nanan Boa Kouassi III of Abengourou was willing to donate land to the project; but to move this kind gesture forward our presence was needed on the ground.  Abengourou is ideally situated for the project, with the border at Niable for Ghana under 20km away. Cote d’Ivoire’s 10th largest town, it has all the facilities that the project needs.  It’s in a region of agriculture including cocoa, rubber & timber.

Our first few hours in town we got our bearings & immediately went to the hospital, Centre Hopitalier Regionale d’Abengourou to see the facilities and find a competent professional to join the team part-time.  DSCN1974DSCN1969DSCN1971We met with Sylvie, a nurse, who was very interested in the project for Abengourou and agreed with us to work on a contractual basis.  When we’re operational she will work with the centre, visiting on a fortnightly basis to check the children and advise on medical and dietary matters.

Tuesday morning dawned; Abengourou was suffering from a power cut so  sleeping past 5.30am was impossible with the hotel room’s fan not working, a ‘mere’ 35 degrees by 8.30am!

Meeting with Director of Youth, Sport & Leisure, Abengourou We headed out to firstly visit our bank in town to start organising an account; quickly followed by a visit to the post office to enquire about a postal box.  We were expected by the King at the Royal Court at 10am.  However, his adviser sent us to the Director of Youth, Sport & Leisure who gave us an in-depth interview about the project, Erick had already been through this on a previous visit.  They were alarmed by the story of ‘Zoe’s Ark’ they quizzed  us at length to ensure our suitability.  It was reassuring that they were taking C.R.E.E.R seriously and weren’t leaving any stone unturned! Roi d'Abengourou

Returning to the Royal Court, we sat with the notability; the King spoke through his spokesman to fully agree the project.  He granted us our land and our presence in Abengourou to help street children, some of which are trafficking victims.

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Elated, we departed for a late lunch prior to returning to the long road back to Abidjan! None of this would have been achieved without Erick’s hard work, his friend Charlemagne & Mamy, the King’s niece facilitating for C.R.E.E.R.  Another long afternoon on the road in Charlemagne’s car; the Founder arrived in Grand Bassam at 10.30pm due to the roads and traffic!

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Wednesday was due to be the day of departure to return to Accra but it wasn’t to be.  Our NGO paperwork has been in order & many NGO’s work with the paperwork we had but there was one final formality that hadn’t moved forward & had to be organised prior to departure.  Our paperwork had been sitting at the police station for 18months which wasn’t ideal considering Erick had made many trips to prompt the police to move it forward.  Despite a call a few days earlier to inform the police we wanted a meeting, our presence was a revelation to them at 8am.  We were told to return later in the morning; we duly took our place in an office at 10am to find that all our files on their computers had ‘vanished’ and it all had to be typed from scratch again.  Frustration!!!  After 4hours of sitting tight to ensure the papers were finally printed and sent to the correct office; the return journey to Accra was in sight, but for the following morning … Another early start at 4am to cross the border as it opened! Thrilled that C.R.E.E.R finally has a home in Cote d’Ivoire with a town that has welcomed us and wanting to work with us!  It couldn’t have been a better trip!

A few shots of Abengourou

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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!

Advocacy or Action?

It’s been mentioned before, there isn’t a centre in the sub-region of West Africa that solely caters for trafficked children.  Please search google; we cannot find much about what is happening to the trafficked children, but lots of advocacy about them.  Very little action.

Due to ‘M’ the little girl who was found on the beach; C.R.E.E.R was created as we recognised her needs and those of many children that have been trafficked into slavery.  They go to orphanages, who don’t have the specialist needs to cater for the emotional needs of the children.

Those are the lucky ones, others are living in the streets having escaped but lost as to where to call ‘home’ having travelled many miles with their trafficker.  Without money to return home, scared of adults who may return them to their lives of slavery; they live in the streets living on the scraps they can find.

We’ve always stuck by our claim that we’re the first residential centre offering rehabilitation, education and vocational skills  in West Africa to be created solely for trafficked children; until this week!

Cote d'Ivoire 4 Cocoa growers using trafficked children

A few days ago we came across another centre.  Not entirely the same but not entirely different.  During a phone call to their offices, there were a lot of similarities.  They cater for children from Lake Volta in Ghana who are trafficked to work in the fishing industry.  Most of the fish isn’t exported so there’s not so much advocacy about it as there is with cocoa production, domestic servitude or prostitution; where the majority of C.R.E.E.R’s future generation are expected to come from.

An incredible conversation, hearing very similar thoughts to what we’ve been dealing with:

1.  No one else has a centre in the region, they believe they are the first, although they are mainly working with children from the lake.  We are now the second in the West African sub-region.

2.  It took them over 18 months to obtain their land; they also experienced endless meetings, false promises and wild goose chases.

3.  Local traditions, culture, bureaucracy; they have experienced a lot in Ghana that we’ve experienced in Cote d’Ivoire (& are still experiencing!)

However, we no longer feel as if we’re scraping in the dark with a speck of light at the end of a long tunnel.  Their organisation is going from strength to strength; there are facets that we would like to introduce at C.R.E.E.R particularly their art therapy.

So, advocacy is all very well, but action is needed too.  We need more help to make our centre a reality & gain action from committed individuals to help fundraise!

Ideas for vocational skills

We’ve already mentioned that the children will all leave with a vocational skill, or hopefully continue to further education so to be able to provide for themselves during their adults lives.

Initially the children can try whichever one they would like, but in later years we hope that they will concentrate on one or two.  Our expectations is that they will leave the centre fully equipped with skills they’ve learnt to find a job or go into tertiary education.

Our current list of vocational skills will depend on the funding we can find for the equipment needed, so far most of these are low-cost skills in terms of fixed assets.  There are many more we would like to do as we grow.

Sewing 

Lea, our Director’s partner is a skilled seamstress & will be running the courses.

We currently have a donation of one electric sewing machine; considering we are hoping to run the centre on renewable energy sources (predominantly solar) it’s going to be a strain on the supply if we run several of these.

If you have a spare manual machine (we will take electric too) that you’d like to give to a good home; we would be very happy to hear from you.

Welding

We are aiming to have a welding workshop to train the children for the future.

We suspect that their welding skills as well as the mechanical ones will also be useful in keeping our renewable energy sources going; giving them another area to look for work.

This is part of the founder’s bucket list, to have some children able to move into aviation and together with mechanics, could be useful!

If you know of any tools that are still usable and need a good home, please do get in touch.

Mechanics

Another workshop to master the technicalities of mechanics which will probably run alongside the welding workshop.

There’ll be no shortage of old cars to bring in that will have finally seen the end of their lives.  However we do not want the centre to turn into a scrap yard by any stretch of the imagination!

Decent tools may be our downfall; if you know of any that would like to be of use to trafficked children, we’d gladly put them to use!

Cookery

Bread, cakes, patisserie; local cooking, learning foreign dishes the list is endless.  However the most important lesson that will be ongoing throughout their courses will be HYGIENE.

In West Africa there are some odd old myths, such as treating cuts with cow dung.  Hygiene will be crucial throughout the centre but particularly during these courses.

We hope to buy a gas stove that runs from a bottle to allow them to cook.  The gas stove is going to cost about 250€ as well as replenishing our gas supplies both for this workshop & for the centre’s own kitchen.

Farming & animal husbandary

As we will have 5hectares of land, some of it will be put to use as a small holding with chickens, sheep, bees & small crops.   You will have seen the A, B, C of farming at CREER as well as the Bees & Honey post.

We have experts who want to give agricultural lessons in classrooms.  C.R.E.E.R wants to give as much knowledge to the children as possible so that they can set up alone if this is the path they choose to take.

Our initial needs will be in the form of spades, forks, wheelbarrows & material to construct pens as well as seedlings or seeds to start this training.  A small tractor would be a dream!

Hairdressing

This is a massive industry in W.Africa as well as many other parts of Africa, plaiting, braiding & inserting extensions.

It will probably be the girls who will want to do this and they will need expert guidance on how to do it effectively so that they might build their own hair salon in the future.

Electricity & Energy

This is quite a large area that can encompass the welding & mechanics fields too.  This workshop will ensure they have skills to work safely with electricity and learn about renewable energy.  We hope that through our own sustainable energy supply they will learn more skills in solar & possibly wind or water power.  Our hope is that they will go onto tertiary education or we find a suitable role for them to work in an apprentice type role on leaving the centre.

Carpentry

Another vocational skill that will be a path for the future.

We will need assistance to buy wood for the children to manipulate it as well as carpentry tools; if you have some that need a new home, please get in touch!

There are many other vocational ideas that are on the horizon.  We intend to have the children speaking English as well as French so that they can go into the tourism industry which is growing across West Africa.  We already have a variety of organisations ready to take them aged 17 or so for a short work placement.

But we need you to help us realise our dream!

A, B, C of farming for CREER

A is for avocados, we hope to have a tree or two on the land

B is for bananas, which are native to Cote d’Ivoire & will be grown with the expert eye of one of our Ivorian board members.  They contain at least 10 percent of a recommended daily intake of carbohydrate in the form of fibre and sugar. Also rich in potassium and the vitamins A, B-6 and C.  Bananas provide about 105 calories, whilst containing negligible amounts of sodium and fat.  Ideal for the children’s diet.   http://www.livestrong.com/article/530296-what-nutritional-qualities-are-bananas-heavy-on/#ixzz2Kc7J8vNo  Please also see P for Plantains (large bananas)

ChickenC is for chickens, we aim to buy a few hens and several dozen chicks, use them for their eggs & meat; if we have excess, we will be able to sell them locally; thereby compensating on other provisions such as rice & flour.

D is for dogs.  No we’re not going to feed them to the children!!!  But they will be a useful deterrent to anyone attempting to enter the centre; animals stealing our produce and playmates for the children!

E is for eggs & eggplant (aubergine) – eggs from our chickens & aubergines (eggplants) grow easily in the tropical climate of Cote d’Ivoire.

FishF is for fish, we will need expert advice and have already talked to a former trout fish farmer about creating a small fish farm with stock to feed the centre & sell locally.  A rather costly project & it might be too much of a gamble!  Tilapia or ‘Capitaine’ as it’s known in Cote d’Ivoire is a favourite.

G is for goat, these are eaten locally and taste very good, particularly when smoked.  They may not be eaten at the centre but will do a good job on the land keeping the weeds down.

H is for honey, made from our bees we hope, there’s a post about it here: https://creercentre.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/bees-honey/

I is for iron, essential part of any diet & will be found in many of the root vegetables & greens that we’ll grow at the centre.

Vegetables

J is for juice, we’ll be able to make a lot of juices from the various fruits growing on the land

K is for kiwifruit, not that we’ve seen kiwifruit growing in Cote d’Ivoire but it would be interesting if we could get a male & female pair to grow & produce; the climate might be a little too tropical.  Worth a try!

L is for lettuce, easily grown, good source of dietary fibre as well as potassium & iron

M is for mango, lots of mango trees in Cote d’Ivoire, lovely fruit to eat; we hope to have one on the land.

N is for nuts, cashew nuts are grown there, the main growing region is near where we hope to have the land.

O is for onions, a staple part of the diet, which we will endeavour to grow to save on purchasing costs.

P is for pineapple or papaya, both grow well in the tropical climate giving the children more fruit intake.  It’s also for plantain a larger banana that can only be eaten once cooked.  Often fried to create ‘alooko’.

Q – Still thinking about this … the question remains how much we can grow on the 5ha of land with a few animals

R is for rice, one necessary foodstuff we cannot grow & will cost us dearly; currently the price for a 25kg sack of rice is about 20€.

S is for sheep, we will start with a few and hope to grow a small flock to keep the centre’s meat purchases to a minimum.

T is for tomatoes, another staple part of the Ivorian diet and easily grown.

Tomatoes

U is for we need U to help us, to make this small holding a reality!

V is for vegetables, which as you can see we aim to grow in a variety of forms

W is for wild oranges that may be found growing on the land.

X is for xceptional produce that the children will be involved with!

Y is for yam, another part of the staple Ivorian diet, often made into ‘attieke’ which Americans tell us tastes like sourdough.

Z is for zuccini (or courgette) easily grown in this climate.

Child Trafficking – Ever thought about it?

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Too many children are trafficked in the modern world.  Slavery was abolished before our time but yet it continues.  Children are trafficked around the world to be used as slaves in one form or other.

Can you really let this continue?

When did you last check the origin of your chocolate, clothes etc?

Have you thought why trafficking happens?

Do you ever wonder what happens to those children?

Would you like to assist C.R.E.E.R assist these children?

Please help us to help them!

Why, where, what will C.R.E.E.R be?

CREER logo

C.R.E.E.R = Centre de Reinsertion et d’Education pour les Enfants de la Rue

(Centre of Reinsertion & Education for street children)

Cote d'Ivoire near the Ghana border

Why?

Some children are sold by their families for about US $60, believing that they will have a good life with an employer or promised that they will receive an education.

The families often need the money to manage the rest of the family.

Traffickers will sell these children onto farmers, domestic homes and brothels  offering children for US$200-US$250+.

Many of these children end up mentally and physically scarred from working  like bonded slaves; some will manage to runaway but live on the streets.

Why do families sell their children?

This video says it all, it’s why there are so many children coming from the Sahel belt; the Sahara encroaching on farmland; seeing it for yourself is startling, this video makes it all a bit more real

A farmer with dry land, how can he be expected to feed his family if the land isn’t sustainable?

It’s not just in Niger, but in Burkina Faso, Mali (where there’s more than just drought right now!)  and right across to Mauritania on the Atlantic coast where many West Africans are working for a pittance & slavery has only just been made illegal …

What makes it worse is when families such as these, share their food bowl with you; C.R.E.E.R’s founder has eaten with similar families.

So many are ‘forced’ to sell a child for US$60 or so, to pay for the rest of the family, buy necessary provisions or receive medical care.  The US$60 will go a long way for the family but the child who is sold will end up trafficked & working for others somewhere …

We all have to give back in abundance.  Our own way is to help the trafficked children in long-term rehabilitative care, providing an education to empower them out of this vicious cycle.

Read more here about the young girl’s legacy who gave the inspiration to create C.R.E.E.R http://wp.me/s3aqBS-17

Where?

C.R.E.E.R is to be a non-profit, non-political and non-religious centre in Abengourou, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).   We expect a mix of Christians & Muslims as well as local religions; those that want to follow their faith can do so locally and will be taken to their place of worship by our staff.  We aim to work with the children, to give them future hope and be able to lead a normal adult life, after being part of a family at the centre.

Map of CI

What will C.R.E.E.R be?

As the first such designated centre in West Africa our aim is to give long-term rehabilitation for trafficked children from all over region that are being brought over the border for farming, domestic servitude & prostitution.

We’ve already talked to the immigration authorities.  The Ivorian Authorities are keen to see us set up as there’s nowhere that solely caters for trafficked children.  They house those that they can intercept at the border, wherever they can find a bed.  Our aim is to repatriate those that have families that can take care of them & educate the children that cannot be repatriated.

The idea is to create the centre as soon as possible.  C.R.E.E.R has worked hard since conception in 2010 before the Ivorian crisis and was unfortunately let down already regarding land with false promises in early 2011.

We aim to be as self-sufficient as possible, enabling the children to learn about animal husbandry as well as renewable energy sources and their maintenance.

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1.  We have been promised 5-hectares of land just over the border from Ghana in Cote d’Ivoire’s 10th largest town, Abengourou.  We will build the centre with single sex dormitories and workshops but to also create a small holding that the children will manage with tutors.

a)  The centre will provide accommodation for about 30 children initially.
b)  All children will receive an education, maths, French and also potentially English as core components of other subjects.

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2.  On the land we want to build workshops, this will be the vocational part of the project so that all children will have a chance to leave with a skill.

We hope some will further their education too in tertiary establishments.   The workshops will consist of vocational skills such as sewing, mechanics, carpentry and cooking etc.

We have a wonderful manager who is now ready to work with us, he has already managed an orphanage for several years & dearly missed by the children there.   He has held a variety of important meetings for C.R.E.E.R with government ministers.

We totally trust him & believe he will drive things forward in the interests of trafficked children.

In the longer term we’re hoping to have other C.R.E.E.R centres in Africa, the next one being at the other end of this trafficking corridor, just inside Nigeria’s border.

If you’d like to help, please email us at : c.r.e.e.r.rci@gmail.com

Or join our group http://www.facebook.com/groups/c.r.e.e.r.rci/

Or page http://www.facebook.com/pages/CREER/160911540628718 on Facebook

We’re also on Twitter @CREER_RCI

Please help us to get the first building at the centre constructed

(Thanks to ThirdEyeMom for the video & Sahel update: http://thirdeyemom.com/2013/02/26/starving-in-sahel-its-time-to-care)