I owe my life to a street child

A street child saved Peter Ndung’u from committing suicide. Now, through his organisation, I-Afrika, he has dedicated his life to helping others get a better life

Harriet James

When did you start I-Afrika?

I Afrika is a grassroots street children rehabilitation organisation that provides a safe and loving home away from the streets. I-Afrika was started after the post-election violence in 2007/8.

What inspired you to start the organisation?

While I was studying journalism, I attempted to commit suicide. I failed because a street boy called David saved me. That changed my perspective about them and I desired to do something that would provide refuge for them. 

What exactly does the organisation deal with?

The organisation has three pillars; mainly outreach, care and education. As an outreach  we provide street children with a meal in four different parts of the city every week. We also act as advocates for the children in the community, give simple health education or do our best to meet urgent medical needs. Once we get them off the streets, we try to rehabilitate them. Our social work team searches for the families of the children. If a safe environment can be found with a family member, we mediate the transition and provide ongoing support to keep the child in their home and at school.

However, if the young boys are orphans or completely unable to reintegrate with their families, I-Afrika offers a new home. Currently we house over 50 boys. Lastly, we have the Aubrey Newsman Academy, named after one of our most faithful supporters. The school alongside the centre offers primary education to the boys or the community children. Once boys finish primary school, they receive secondary education at boarding schools in the area or enrol in the vocational education to learn skills, which will allow them to move out of the centre and into adult life where sponsorship is available; our brightest high school graduates are sent to college or universities to receive tertiary education.

What are some of your activities?

Our feeding programme provides over 500 meals a week to street children. This year we started feeding more than 150 children in Kibiko every Saturday. We have rescued girls from the Maa community who have gone through trauma, poverty and lack support for education. They are rescued from early marriages. This year we opened a rescue centre for them, where they are given social, physical and psychological support. I-Afrika has bought and distributed bicycles to boys in Kibiko who walk more than five to 10 kilometres to school.

How many people have you reached?

Over 5,000 boys and girls have benefitted from our outreach programmes.

What are your plans?

We intend to start a Wash Street Outreach Van to improve sanitation for children and families currently on the street, allowing them to safeguard or improve their health and hygiene. The street van will be a large cargo van retrofitted with modifications, which will allow us to serve children and families on the street with water and sanitation facilities as well as other important services. 

It will have a large 100-200 litres water storage tank for filling bucket showers, three pole and canvas shower cubicles, which can be erected alongside the van to provide privacy as people wash, power to run electric clippers, allowing boys and men to have their heads shaved, storage space for food and dishes to provide a simple hot meal and two seats and a small table inside the van where private conversations can be held and first aid administered.

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