*Jr. Summit: Action Plan on ending homelessness and poverty FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 26 Nov 1998 01:39:55 -0400


http://www.msnbc.com/news/217432.asp
Related article on Jr. Summit from MSNBC - 23 Nov 1998
http://www.jrsummit.net/tpls/home.wpi?pageID=1EN
Junior Summit Home Page


FWD  http://www.jrsummit.net/actionplans/topicAP_3.htm
         Junior Summit Action Plan

         JUNIOR SUMIT ACTION PLAN ON POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS


Topic 3 is talking about homelessness and the street children and what we
as Junior Summit
participants can do through the World leaders to help in reducing poverty
and homelessness.

Different Countries are represented in my group and this forum.

Definition of a street child/a homeless person

A street child will be taken as any child who has reached the age of
adulthood but to whom the street has become a dwelling place and who has no
care and protection either from himself, the society or the government.

Street children cannot cry for help. Their only voice is our voice. Their
only hope is our ability to act. Let us assist those who are trying to
restore their lost childhood.

Introduction

Street children/families - who are they?

More than 10 million children worldwide have been displaced or orphaned by
wars, poverty and joblessness. A large number of these children have ended
up in streets and they themselves becoming parents and bringing up more
children to the streets.

We have heard from different parts of the World, Bolivia, Paraguay, India,
Brazil, Namibia, South Africa and Kenya to name just a few how wars (both
internal and external), poverty, joblessness, family breakup, etc have
brought so many destitute children into the streets. And how we now have
2nd to 3rd generation street children. HOW ARE WE AS CHILDREN GOING TO
HELP??????????

In sharing experiences from our different parts of the world, most of us
came up with the underlisted, as the major contributors of homelessness and
street life.

       1. Drugs
       2. Poverty
       3. Prostitution
       4. Aids
       5. War
       6. Child abuse
       7. Over-population
       8. Divorces
       9. Lack of jobs
       10. Alcoholism

Our Ideas

Each member of the team came up with ideas on how we can help.

The most important thought that came to our minds was that of education,
both formal and informal.

Jose suggested that we open health centres, where these children can be
taken for treatment and counseling.

He also came out very clearly in showing us how by loving these children we
can be of great help. These children need love, they need you and me. Jose
has dedicated some of his evenings and nights in talking and being together
with the street children. By sharing these ideas with us he has shown us
the importance of love and if we can share our love, we will have already
won the first battle - that of trust.

The term "dual personality" is used frequently in regard to street
children. The two sides of their personality are: The child is trustworthy
and loving and in desperate need of love, care and protection and the other
side, the child is a liar, sometimes clever, sometimes silly, sometimes
wicked. WHICH OF THIS SIDES WOULD THE WORLD LEADERS CHOSE TO TAKE???????

Due to lack of clean water, nutritious food, suitable shelter and clothing,
street children are affected by different diseases. The full time street
children sleep in the streets, covered with plastic bags or paper, always
under the psychological stress of being found by the police or being
threatened by others.

Untreated open wounds and skin irritations are common. Because they are
suspicious of others, they often do not look for help or treatment
immediately - BUT EVEN IF THEY WERE TO LOOK FOR TREATMENT WHERE WOULD THEY
GO?????

Most of these children have immediate needs for food or shelter. These
children require social support, medical, educational help so that they can
recover and feel accepted in the society.

In some countries like Paraguay, Bolivia, Kenya we also found out that
street life provides the opportunities for work and freedom, but it also
violates the dignity of the children and negatively affects their physical,
mental, emotional, moral and overall well-being. Children of the streets
experience great difficulties in their daily life. Under these hard
conditions the children use drugs, get involved in criminal activities and
engage themselves in prostitution - both girls and boys.

Being a member of a gang protects against other groups, police or the
public. But it also means to care for each other.

The gang substitutes for the missing care by parents or relatives, but it
also means strengthening of behavior such as smoking cigarettes, gambling,
fighting, using bad words, sniffing either glue or thinner, pick pocketing
or even drinking cheap alcohol.

THESE CLEARLY SHOWS THAT CHILDREN NEED LOVE - ARE WE THERE TO GIVE IT TO
THEM? DO WE
CARE? DO WE PUT OURSELVES IN THEIR SHOES?

We also learnt or found out that in their ignorance children run away from
homes because a friend has gone to town to beg and in the evening goes home
with a lot of money. So to a great extent also money given innocently by
the rich people contributed to children being in the street. Sometimes we
think we are helping, while in reality we are only encouraging more
children to come to the streets.

The Group's Strategies

    1.Use of the media, i.e. Newspapers and radios to make the world aware.
    2.TVs like in the case of Norway and Canada whereby the topic of
poverty is a concern for the whole country.
    3.Music as a way of involving the children and having them participate
in the singing and dancing, thus
       forgetting for a short while that they have problems.
    4.Encouraging the children by teaching art, involving them in concerts,
exhibiting products hand made by them
       and therefore boasting the children's morale, teaching them
woodcraft and helping in selling of their products
    5.Fund-raising using the media
    6.The Internet as a new technology to reach the wider society, who may
contribute, give ideas, or even donate
       land to build centres for these children.
    7.Just like we have used the Internet, so can other people and many
ideas will bear fruits.
    8.Having a fun day, whereby we go to the street child, join them and
encourage them.
    9.Befriend the street child by communicating your ideas so as to
encourage them to share their ideas too. (Street
       children too have dreams)
   10.Encourage families ties.
   11.Train as many people as possible on the way to handle the street
child i.e. in counseling.

Solutions

Child rights must be observed. Every child has a right to education and
health facilities.

Laws must be passed whereby if anyone is caught using children either to
sell drugs or selling drugs to a child is jailed for life.

Training of police and the public on how to handle the street children and
how to encourage and be friends to them. This is happening in Bolivia as
per Jose's information, so we know it can be done. So that if a child has a
problem he or she can trust a policeman and tell them their problems.

Medical health is a must for every child. Access to a hospital whereby a
child can talk to someone should be introduced in the whole world. We
thought some children would like to come out of the street but because they
do not know where to go or who to talk to, the opportunity is usually
missed.

To put more emphasis on our discussion, we came up with ideas, one of which
was to write a poem. The idea was given by Henrik and here is one of the
poems, more to follow in the other reports. .

       Poems written by Victor, and given a title by Sonali
       *********************************
       " DREAM OF A STREET CHILD "

       I live in a street corner
       Rugs on my body and dust in my hair
       To grow in this world of nothing
       Why cry if no one will care?..


       Life as I know is a struggle
       The rules of this game are not fair
       I watch your lives full with pleasure
       Through the black eyes of despair.


       The street taught me about survival
       In school I have not much to learn
       How to collect garbage they don't teach you
       The bread for tomorrow to earn.


       In my dream an army of children
       Came to help me through the sea
       Armed with caring and hope
       My salvation they wanted to see


       Life is a struggle
       To survive you have to be brave
       I have no home to go back to
       A dream - is all that I have..


       **************************

Another idea given by Sonali was of slogans. The team came up with uses of
slogans i.e. using the slogans in posters to be hung in strategic places.
Another suggestion would be for the TV commercials, to use these slogans
while advertising.

A few of the slogans are quoted:

       Peace and Love for All
       Reach out for the little hands
       Lend your help for the helpless

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