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Children who have lived on the streets in Tanzania can be successfully reintegrated

News: Jun 29, 2017

Children who have lived on the streets in Tanzania can be reintegrated into society and enjoy a good life. However, they need long-term support and in this respect authorities, and civil society can do more. These are the findings of a thesis from the University of Gothenburg.


“A short while after leaving the streets, nearly all of the children and youths I interviewed were back in school or work. Furthermore, 86% of those reintegrated believe they are being treated no differently than any other,” says Jeanette Olsson, author of the thesis. Their self-rated quality of life and health had also significantly improved compared to before they left their homes.
Over recent years, the UN and international non-governmental organisations have pursued a policy to make children living on the streets re-enter the communities they once left, not only assist them while on the streets. Jeanette Olsson has interviewed over 250 children who, through the Tumaini Children’s Center in the Kagera region, have been able to leave the social exclusion of life on the street and return to a, by and large, ordinary life in the community.

“The most common reason for them ending up on the streets was the death of one or both of their parents – often due to AIDS,” she says.

After this, the children often went to live with relatives for long periods – who mistreated them or were too poor to support them. The process of leaving these new homes was usually drawn out. Facing an increasingly deteriorating situation, the children eventually reached the decision to leave the home for the streets of the city.

“Here there is a great opportunity to target children most at risk and take preventive action to support both them and their families before the child loses all hope of remaining at home,” explains Jeanette Olsson.

This would save a great deal of suffering as life on the streets is violent and discriminatory.. In light of that it is an important result that reintegrated children experience that they now are treated equalas others. However, to achieve this, targeted and sustained measures are required.

The reintegration process generally begins with several visits to build a good relation with a relative identified by the child themselves as someone they could consider living with. A local community may need to offer support through income-generating activities or similar in order to encourage relatives to take on the responsibility.

“It is also important that measures are individually adapted, flexible and sustainable. We need to utilise the child’s own agency and place their desires at the core of the work,” says Jeanette Olsson.

In her thesis, she also offers examples of a number of initiatives that may prevent children from leaving their homes, as well as making it easier for more to leave street life behind them.

“Increased efforts to combat poverty, improved access to healthcare, education and social support are some of the initiatives that would offer greater opportunities for children to leave the streets. More specifically, the authorities and NGOs could do more to support the work being carried out in local communities for the most vulnerable children,” says Jeanette Olsson.

Contact: Jeanette Olsson, telephone: +46 (0)70 210 7593, email: jeanette.olsson@socwork.gu.se

Title of thesis: From exclusion to inclusion – Young people’s trajectories from home to street to reintegration in Kagera region, Tanzania

Learn more about the thesis at: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/52269


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Page Manager: Lars-Olof Karlsson|Last update: 3/27/2008

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