These are the ten most asked questions. Please scroll down for the answers to each. If you have further questions, please send us an email.
- Why are you only supporting boys?
- What do they do while at your centre?
- What happens when they leave the Respite Home
- Won’t they just go back on the streets if they return to their home environment?
- Where do you get your funding?
- Do you work with other organisations?
- Do you get any government support?
- Why don’t you go to other States where there are more street children?
- Aren’t there too many centres doing the same thing?
- How can I get involved/volunteer?
1. Why are you only supporting boys?
The Care Continuity Challenge Initiative is the only initiative currently operational by Fair Life Africa Foundation. Fair Life Africa will set up others to address other needs in society, not limited to children. CCC Initiative is for boys and girls, and is a big vision for Nigeria that will include long-term accommodation as the organisation grows in capacity.
It is a new initiative that is operating its first Home. As the children are accommodated, we are not able to mix street boys and girls in the same Rehabilitation Home. They are prone to mischief and abuse of themselves, having been exposed to these practices on the streets. They also have varied and potentially conflicting needs, and need targeted interventions.
We chose to start with boys, because they are predominant on the streets, and more visible than girls. The few girls that are visible usually have family who are nomadic or live on the streets, or are closely observed, whereas boys are usually by themselves and independent. Girls are also more trafficked, abused and prostituted, and so interventions with them need to be more assertive and skilled, particularly with medical and legal practitioners to assist.
As the initiative develops, and Fair Life Africa’s capacity increases, we will open another centre for girls which will address their varied and specialised needs. In the meantime, we are able to refer girls and collaborate with organisations working with girls.
2. What do they do while at your centre?
We are currently running an academic year rehabilitation programme. This means that the children are resident in the Home for the duration of time they need to go to school (September to June). Between these months, they are supported academically, vocationally and counselled towards reconciliation with their families.
They are enrolled in a local school, registered with the local health centre (treated and tested), cared for and disciplined in the Home, and visited by their families too. Those who cannot or do not want to go to school will be supported with vocational training instead, to give them (or develop) a skill. They will also begin to visit their families, spending weekends and several days (up to a week) at home, as they draw closer to the end of the programme.
During school break (June to August), the Home runs as a Day Centre. The Team goes on outreach to various locations, identifying street boys and inviting them to the centre for food, shelter, play and rest. We also use the opportunity to counsel them, and assess them for support. From the ones who regularly visit, those who show interest in leaving the streets and going to school, will be received as residents in the Home.
At the Home, they have access to our Reading Room, which contains a library of fictional, non-fictional and academic books, and two computer systems, with Internet access. They will have access to our recreational room, which holds games and toys for them to play with. They can watch TV/movies in the lounge and play football and other sports in the field outside. They can use the showers and toilets, and nap in the beds. They also have two meals daily, while they are still visiting the Home, from 9am-6pm.
We have a programme of academic learning and vocational training, with the help of teachers and volunteers, who come to the Home at scheduled times to take the children on different subjects. At this point, their strengths and weakness are assessed through tests, and counselling is initiated from the beginning. Visiting children whose families are located and willing and ready to receive them can be reconciled at this time too.
3. What happens when they leave the Respite Home?
Children who have been through the programme, and return home with our support are followed up regularly. During their stay in the Respite Home, we would have learnt a lot about their families, and also begun to give the families some support to make the home environment suitable for the child’s return. Sometimes, this requires helping with accommodation, financial assistance with their business, vocational training or other business advice and support, medical assistance, counselling and/or referral for therapy too.
We ensure that the child who returns home is going to school, or learning a trade minimally. Often we pay school fees, but if a good public school is found, we support the child’s return with referral and advocacy. We provide material for education, and also resources to families, according to their circumstances and need. We collaborate with other organisations to minimise the financial costs of supporting families, by building their capacity to be self-sufficient.
The children are also invited to attend our annual Christmas parties, which is a form of reunion for those in the same set. They may be invited to visit the home to share lessons with the new set of boys, and encourage them to stay through the programme and go back to school. We also encourage the boys who remain home with their families, by celebrating landmarks in time (two months, six months and a year), and giving gifts which address the family’s needs.
4. Won’t they just go back on the streets if they return to their home environment?
As communicated above, we follow up the children and give their family support, prior to the child’s return and during their stay at home. The children also adjust to going back home with gradual stays at Home, as their time with us rounds up. Abusive and uncooperative parents are identified earlier on, and assistance is sought with other agencies, particularly government agencies, to address these issues before the child is taken back home.
The best place for a child is in their family home, even if they are poor. It is not good for children to be institutionalised, as that too has its many challenges and can be abusive for the child too. Taking the child home without follow up and support is risky, but with appropriate support, training, understanding and care, families can reconcile and work out their issues. However, there is no guaranty that the child will remain at home. All options must be considered, and decisions made on a case by case basis, on the best interest of the child. Sometimes, alternative solutions like fostering, boarding school or even transfer to a long-stay Home can be considered on their own merits.
5. Where do you get your funding?
From generous individuals like you. They say little drops fill a bucket, so every little adds up and helps us to go on. You can consider giving monthly (which is preferable) or giving a lump sum donation to address one of the many areas we work in to support these children (feeding, clothing, education, medical, family support etc).
Actually, however, we are still largely supported by the founding Trustees, who give enough for the organisation to be operational at this early stage. We have approached several corporations for sponsorship, and some have responded positively, giving financially or in kind. Click to see those who have helped us.
We have a growing group of friends who give once in a while, regularly or one-off towards our operations and various events. Some friends prefer to give through their associations and link us to these. We have no sustainable support with the government, and hope that as we are firmly established, our impact will be reinforced by government partnership.
6. Do you work with other organisations?
Fair Life Africa Foundation is a member of Nigeria Network of NGOs and the Child Protection Network, Lagos (an initiative of UNICEF). We are also members of other forums and groups that work with youths and street children. Through these associations, we are able to collaborate with others on cases and refer cases on appropriately. We are developing close ties with other non-profits to improve our impact in our area of focus.
7. Do you get any government support?
We received allocation of agricultural produce over Christmas in 2012 from the Lagos State Agricultural Development Authourity (LASDA).
We receive the support of Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) and the Ministry of Justice on cases we refer to them.
We receive no other support for now.
8. Why don’t you go to other States where there are more street children?
CCC Initiative is a vision for the whole of Nigeria. We have to begin somewhere, and Lagos is as good as any other place to begin. It is the most populated city in Nigeria, and street children from every State in the country flock down to Oshodi (in Lagos), looking for opportunities to work. It makes sense that we catch them where they flock to.
Once we are stabilized and developed a programme that can be replicated in other areas, we will move out to establish centres and Homes in these cities too, or collaborate with those who have already set up programmes there. If you have a burden for a particular State, you can do your research and start doing something about it.
9. Aren’t there too many centres doing the same thing?
No. There are several centres doing the same thing or similar things, but the problem is not that there are too many centres doing the same thing. These centres are often stretched to capacity and are not able to address the needs of the many children on the streets of Lagos. There is certainly a need for more shelters to accommodate children, so that they are not taken to correctional or remand Homes for juveniles, which, when the child is not a criminal, is an abuse. The main problems are with strategy and communication between organisations, and with a shortage of sponsors who are committed to giving.
We may not need more centres, but we need to build the capacity of the existing centres. People are happy to give money to feed a child, but they are afraid to give money to pay for the person who will counsel that child. Feeding children will not stop the street child problem, but building a sustainable framework of support, which is inevitably labour and capital intensive, might. If you want to do your part, research and identify a centre you would like to assist, and be committed to building their capacity.
People usually only want to sponsor organisations they are familiar with or that are well known. But the big organisations started small. Visit our Home at 2 Gbara Close, off Maiyegun Beach Rd, Lekki, and see the reality of our work.
10. How can I get involved/volunteer?
Our primary need is for financial sponsorship. Please consider if you can give something each month. You can also donate used or new personal and household supplies, including books and equipment that can be useful in the Home.
We also need professionals to align with us, and help us mitigate some essential spending. Accountants, doctors, psychologists, lawyers, teachers, electricians and others are needed to provide occasional and/or regular assistance. You can also be a mentor to the children, and come and share some good counsel and lessons from your experience with them.
We need volunteer support workers in the Home, to come and help the children study and develop their skills. Volunteers can also be part of our outreach team, when we go to the streets or on home visits, to follow up on reconciled children. Volunteers can help from time to time when we hold events, or need to be represented at events.
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You can arrange to visit the Home by calling us on 08058711125 or 08095821990, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to volunteer, please send in your CV too, so that we know where your strengths are. Thank you.