Vihiga County plans to relocate street children

Street children served food during previous World Food Day. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Vihiga County plans to remove street children from major towns and trading centres in the area.

The targeted children will be rehabilitated by governor Wilber Ottichilo's administration and be reunited with their families.

"We value our children and our focus is on bringing all actors dealing with the welfare of children together and agree on modalities assisting the street families," said the county children welfare officer Aggrey Ambwaya

Mr Ambwaya told The Standard that they will also equip the children with basic skills in plumbing and masonry among others before being reintegrated into the community.

It is estimated that at least 150 children live in streets in Vihiga County after being orphaned or running away from their home due to physical, sexual abuse and emotional harassment.

Mos of them stay at market centres including Mbale, Luanda, Mudete, Chavakali and Shamakhokho. 

"Rehabilitating the children will ensure they don't go back to the streets after they have been re-integrated back to the society," said Ambwaya.

The county government is currently working with faith-based rescue centres like St Joseph’s Rehabilitation Centre Luanda in rehabilitating the street children. 

Dorcas Moraa in charge of the centre said they work hand in hand with the government.  "Children can only be safe if they are in a home setup that is why we came in to assist."

So far, 100 boys have been rescued from the streets and rehabilitated at the centre and later reunited with their families.  Currently the center has 22 boys.

"We offer counseling, shelter, food and education and technical skills to the rescued children," said Moraa. 

Cases of children being abandoned have led to increase in number of street children in the county.

Data from the Children Welfare department indicates that between November 2022 and February 2023, about 432 cases involving children were reported.

Vihiga sub-county children welfare officer Michael Nanjira said child neglect cases were rampant with prohibition from school, lack of medical attention and food topping the list.

The county has only one rescue centre for boys with no single girl child rescue centre despite the rising cases of abandonment.

Most of the girls molested in the county are forced to seek refuge in rescue centres in the neighbouring Kakamega County.