Ndugu Mdogo Rescue Centre
The Ndugu Mdogo Rescue Centre is an initiative at Nairobi’s Kibera slum, where Koinonia social workers initiate the rehabilitation process through street activities.
Kibera is infamously considered sub-Saharan Africa’s largest slum.
Operating from a small house in the slum, the Koinonia social workers identify children living on the street, and proceed to organize street activities with them as a prelude to a fostering process that gradually moulds them into sound members of the society.
After achieving rapport with the children, the social workers take them through a programme that offers hope through the provision of basic needs, counseling, talent development, formation and self-understanding.
Aims and Objectives
The Ndugu Mdogo Rescue Centre launched operations in September 2005 with the following aims and objectives:
1. To promote street interventions and youth empowerment programmes
2. To support child rescue initiatives
3. To provide in-house care, support and rehabilitation of children in need
4. To initiate effective community and parent empowerment systems
5. To network and create awareness on street problems and the rights of children
The Centre also provides a base for academic research on street life, which is carried out with support from various universities.
The Rescue Centre Calendar
The Ndugu Mdogo Rescue centre targets to rehabilitate 20 street children per year. The one year programme is split into five stages as set forth below:
Mid-February: The street initiative begins. Social workers go out into the streets to identify children for rehabilitation.
Naturally, the street children initially display apathy to the social workers’ overtures. This means the workers always have to devise ways to reach out to theses children and gradually befriend them, which they do over a period of about one month.
March: The social workers endeavour to deepen their newfound bond with the identified children by engaging in various street activities with them. For example, they play football with the children and invite them to visit the Rescue Centre, where they can watch television, prepare meals and eat together. The social workers sometimes even spend nights on the street with the children.
Through this close interaction, the social workers get to know each child’s case history. They find out the child’s origin and try to understand the circumstances that drove him to a life on the street. Most often, the child experienced hostile conditions either at home or at school, and opted for the streets as a way to escape from the unfriendly environment.
Counselling starts informally on the streets through participatory engagement.
April: The social workers visit the children’s homes of origin. Incidentally, most of the children actually have parents or guardians, but seek to escape from certain unfriendly situations. These visits give the workers an actual glimpse of the real reason for the child’s sojourn on the street, which may vary from abject poverty to abuse by alcoholic parents or guardians among other possible reasons.
During these visits, the workers reach out to the parents in view of the child’s rehabilitation. Where the parents or guardians have personal problems that strain their relationship with the child, the social workers try to counsel them into supporting the child’s rehabilitation process as much as they can.
Late April: The children are formally inducted into the Rescue Centre’s rehabilitation programme. Although the extensive programme is largely informal, the inherent activities are systematically scheduled. They include the following:
• Group activities such as scouting, camping and talent development, which ingrain in them such qualities as discipline, leadership, teamwork and environmental consciousness;
• Informal education, which prepares the children for placement into the formal school system;
• Guidance & counseling, both in form of group sharing & individual counseling;
• Spiritual activities, notably Bible Studies.
December/January: This month marks the end of the rehabilitation programme. The social workers carry out an assessment of the child’s family to determine the stability of the home environment and capacity to provide for the child’s basic needs and stationery for impending school placement. Where the situation is favourable, the child is reintegrated back into the family at this point, but in cases where further fostering is required, the child is either considered for admission to the main Ndugu Mdogo Home at Kerarapon or referred to another rehabilitation centre.
Emergency and Medical Assistance
Out of sharing and experiencing street life, the Centre responds to emergencies resulting from street violence, disease, exploitation and drugs-related issues. The Centre can accommodate up to ten children for emergencies like sickness, abuse by adults and immediate danger.
Street Youth Empowerment
The Rescue Centre also supports initiatives to empower street youth using available resources in recycling and conservation of the environment. This project makes use of their acquired life skill, resulting in the setting up of a recycling unit for plastics, alongside other useful activities in support of environmental conservation