The amount of street children in Dar es Salaam is enormous. Every day we see new faces. It is mainly boys, aged between 7 and 20.
There are many reasons, why these children live on the streets. Nearly all of them come from rural areas. The leave home in the hope that they will find work, and have easier access to food and water. Many come from families with lots of children, who can’t look after all of them. Other reasons that children decide to leave home include abuse, death and drug or alcohol misuse.
There is plenty of solidarity between the children. Although they are all alone, they stick together when faced with a problem. The older children look after the younger ones, and food and water are shared. They are spread through the city, in small groups, and earn money by washing cars and selling various objects.
There is a support system, but this is aimed mainly at girls and orphans. For the street children, there’s almost nothing.
The police are under instruction to step up the offensive against them. Every day children are imprisoned, persecuted, beaten and chased. It is very difficult for them to live on the streets and to find a safe place to sleep.
There is a lack of food, clothing and medical care. There are always people who, when passing by, bring the children things to eat or some money, but no help that will give long-term benefits.
The state school system is very strict. If a child is out of the system, even just for a few months, they cannot get back into the system. Private schools are unaffordable, and the various courses offered in the city are, without a fixed income, also too expensive.
It is therefore almost impossible for a street child to become a part of society.