Although, the country is in a winter season with strong cold winds blowing mainly in the afternoon, you might also see a young children aged b/w 8 to 17 laying along the walls of Hargeisa down town.
With a condition that isn’t completely suitable for human being. There is not single thing in between them and the ground on that they are sleeping on. Furthermore, the vicinity isn’t healthy. Where they live is used a dual purpose shelter, a place for sleeping and toilet. A part from that, what is far worse than this unhealthy condition in their environment is the use of drugs. They have accustomed to chewing khat, sniffing drugs and smoking cigarettes that are hazard to their health condition.
Some times, these children sniff alcohol from a single tan and this might at ease to transmit diseases easily.
These children known as street children are growing in number day after day in Hargeisa, capital city of Somaliland.
A survey conducted by UNICEF in 2003 estimated that the number of street children have reached up 974 in Somaliland with 400 of these kids live in Hargeisa alone.
As the study shown, these kids are divided into these following categories;
1. Children living at home and working on the street.
2. Children working and living on the street.
3. Children not working but living on the street and abusing drugs.
4. Children roaming the street and usually not working or abusing drugs. (the minority)
A. Children living at home and working on the street
The majority of children on the street go to work each day and return home at night to give their earnings to their families. These children are generally well behaved, not part of a gang, not involved in criminal or immoral activities and not drug users. Consequently, they are also in better physical and psychological condition than those children living and working on the street. As the study states, the earning of these type of street children were essential on the survival of them and their families.
B. Children living and working on the street
The majority of children living and working on the street say they struggle each day to survive. They report not being involved in criminal activities and not using drugs. They usually do some jobs and have the same working conditions as the children we stated earlier. The major difference is that these children lack the stability and emotional support that come from having a home.
The condition of most of these children is desperate. They struggle to find enough food for one meal a day, often buying leftovers from vendors or restaurants. They often live with out shelter in the markets or on the streets and use the Sea for bathing and public areas for toileting. Unsurprisingly, most appear dirty and malnourished.
C. Children not working but living on the street and abusing drugs
This group is small and seems to include many of the self proclaimed ‘dangerous’ and emotionally disturbed children. Many say they ran away from their homes and came to the street to work, but over time lost hope and were coerced to join drug-using gangs. They report the habitual use of drugs: most commonly sniffing glue, but also chewing qat, smoking hashish and using various pills from pharmacies.
D. Children roaming the street
Although many children play on the streets, only a few were found actually roaming the streets. Some of these said they lived at home, others on the street. They usually neither worked nor used drugs, and most appeared to be lost and vulnerable.
However, there are some local organizations who take responsibility of collecting some of these young street children from the market. Among them is HAVOYOCO. In fact, this is the sole local organization that greatly helped these children. They have collected around 300 children from the streets of the city and they get many them back in to their homes. Now they have 55 street children in their center where they shelter, feed and educate them. As Ifrah rashed told me when they collect these the children interview them. And when they find their families, they get back to their families. A part from this rehabilitation, they also give free education and skills to work. Upon my visit to this center, I find different children from the street children. They are well behaving kids and they are physically good looking.
The important question, can HAVOYOCO take the responsibility of rehabilitating and helping the all street children in Somaliland?
Truly speaking, these children need extensive support from the Somalis around the globe to help them rehabilitate and get them back into the real truck of life.