Updated: Apr 5
April 12th 2023 is International Day for Street Children all around the world. Initiated in 2012 by the Consortium for Street Children, a global alliance acting as the voice for street children, it ensures their rights to services, resources, care and opportunities.
This year the theme is “Keeping street-connected children safe.” The campaign israising awareness of the situations street children say make them feel unsafe, as well as what can be done to change this.
Last year in 2022, I had the opportunity to meet up with a colleague I knew from when I served with Happy Child International in Belo Horizonte, Brazil at the end of the 90’s. Today, Nury and her husband Fernando are in Recife running a project working with street-connected children. They invited me to go out with them on to the streets of Recife at night. An experience I haven’t had for 10 years which will stay with me for a long time! I had forgotten how shocking it is to see children living on the streets of an urban city in the 21st century. The youngest child we encountered was about 3 or 4 years old and some of the older ones were 17 or 18, on the cusp of adult life.
When we parked up, two young children came hurtling towards us. The eldest one was a little boy of perhaps no more than 5 years old. He said with a quizzical look on his face “have you brought the skipping rope aunty?”
Full of hope and expectation he was all ready to forget the dangerous environment he found himself in and return to the innocence and pleasure of being a child again, playing with a skipping rope. I will never forget that question and the incongruity of everything surrounding him in that moment. A little while later, on the other side of the square, I noticed a group of teenagers sniffing glue to numb the pain of their lives. They allowed us to join them, at ease with the familiar faces of the team, hungry for attention and so ready to engage and be shown love. One of the girls was only about sixteen; there was such a look of sadness, emptiness and life-long suffering on her face.
I am telling you about a handful of very vulnerable children and young people that I personally met and the impact they had on me in that brief moment.
Happy Child International has been a member of the Consortium for Street Children (www.streetchildren.org) for many years and is fully supportive of the work they do. We are pleased to mark and promote International Day for Street Children.
We wholeheartedly believe that each and every project Happy Child International is currently supporting in Recife, north east Brazil, contributes to the solution in preventing children and young people, like the ones I met, from ending up on the streets.
In the Book of Proverbs it says “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” This is very much what I hope Happy Child International has been doing for the last 30 years and will continue to do so, for vulnerable children and young people long into the future..
Written by: Caroline Taylor