Before DIAS Director, Rod, left for Africa last month, he had a question he wanted answered.
And while he was walking the streets of Bungoma in Kenya, it was.
His question was this: does helping and feeding street boys actually make them want to stay on the streets?
But it quickly became clear that no plate of basic food could ever make them stay in conditions like this. Here are Rod’s words:
“I saw them sitting in the dirt under a tree with nothing much to do but fiddle with a scrap of something salvaged from a garbage dump, or try and play checkers on a piece of old cardboard with different coloured bottle tops.”
“Some were cooking ‘food’ that they had scavenged from a pile of what I thought was rotting leaves, plastic and black mud. They had it in a tin over a fire and apparently it was the clumps of undigested grass soaked in blood that had been removed from the stomach of a slaughtered cow and thrown out from the abattoir. It looked disgusting and I am sure it was.
“This clearly and vividly shone a light on the plight of these poor kids and answered my question.
“And if that wasn’t answer enough, it was confirmed at the next stop when I saw where a few of them were sleeping. It was in a wooden and corrugated iron structure about 3m by 3m with huge gaps between the rough planks that were supposed to be the walls. The floor was wet and muddy dirt, but not even levelled. It had rocks in it and one of the boy’s beds was still there. The bed was his shirt and beside it lay a bottle of glue that he most likely sniffed last night so that he could get to sleep and obliterate the pain, itching bites of a thousand mosquitos and the hunger pangs.
“Outside this house was a garbage pile with two pigs digging through it, an open drain smelling a lot like sewerage and certainly looking like sewerage. No child (or adult) could ever want to live like this. There must be extreme factors pushing them out onto the streets.”
To read more about Joseph’s work with the street boys in Bungoma, visit: www.dias.asn.au/our-work/