First and foremost, we are getting street people off the street. This alone would be a great achievement, but the collateral benefits are many:
We are creating a means for street youth to secure the necessities of life. For a street person, one’s livelihood can often be dependent on others (i.e. on society at large) and/or on negative sources of income such as theft, extortion or through the sale of various kinds of counterfeit or contraband goods. Instead, we help street youth secure their physiological and safety needs, as well as giving them a positive source of income.
Integrating youth into their community
The next need an individual has is for a sense of love and belonging. Part of the concept of home is the notion of ‘topophilia’, which simply means an affective bond between a person and a place. Often, street children and youth have spent years migrating from one place to another, without having roots or any genuine feeling of connection to a place. The home they have come from may be associated with negative experiences (e.g. violence, abandonment etc.), and initiation to a new place can be turbulent. Some may not know where to call home. Nyumbani can help to give that feeling of connection to a place, once youth have a stable community of neighbours they can share with and once they find themselves valuable within this community.
Benefits to the community surrounding Nyumbani
We are likely to uncover more of these benefits as we go along, but there are a number of small farms in the area, and pigs make excellent plows and provide fertilizer while they do it. With the barbecue going, local folks and passers-by can also stop in to get a snack.
Street children and youth experience a lot of loss, despair and stigma. Once a person has satisfied their needs for food and shelter, health and safety, and a sense of love or belonging, they will be able to focus on their confidence, respect for self and respect for others. This will continue on into the highest level of needs, allowing youth the space for things like creativity and problem solving.
Helping Kenya to create employment
In addition to helping to build employable citizens, we are also creating jobs, a much needed ingredient in order to secure the country’s prosperity and avoid upheavals such as the ones seen in Tunisia and Egypt. See Kenya: Policies for Prosperity, for more thoughts on this topic.
Helping to create a healthier society
More youth with jobs means fewer youth on the streets, which means a lower crime rate and less strain on existing resources (social workers, police, health care etc.). Youth enter Nyumbani as street boys and leave as more responsible citizens. This changes the community’s relationship to street youth.
Supporting extended families
Connected to self-esteem, individuals that are no longer a burden to their families or simply disconnected from them can start money flowing back in the other direction. This can support people all over the country, and potentially divert more youth from heading to the street in the future.
As we start to see some success stories emerge from this project, it can act as a valuable educational tool: for other street youth, for social workers, for volunteers, for aspiring social entrepreneurs, and for average citizens and guests. We welcome guests to contact us and make an appointment to stop by and see how things work.
Managing new families
Once youth become alumni of Nyumbani, many will move on to have families of their own, and Nyumbani will continue to act as a resource for managing these families as they continue their reintegration into Kenyan society and even start businesses of their own.
Filling a gap in services
People over the age of 18 have fewer services available to them. Children’s services are stretched very thin as it is, and we help alleviate this stress by providing services to legal adults. Using a business model rather than a charity model, we are self-sustaining and do not draw resources from other children’s services relying on donor support.