A significant part of the duties conducted by the Contact Department at our local partner organisation Simukai, is to conduct day and night street visits. Street visits involve volunteers visiting particular spots on the streets in Mutare where it is known that children who live and work on the streets can be found.
From the daytime street visits, Simukai already have a regular group of boys who attend the centre on a daily basis. Whilst here, the boys have the chance to wash their clothes, eat a free lunch, attend sessions on Child Rights, Sexual Reproductive Health and HIV & AIDS, conducted by volunteers and play soccer. Essentially, the boys have the opportunity to just enjoy being children and for a brief period, put aside the hardships that they have to face on a day-to-day basis.
Despite their backgrounds, the boys are so charismatic and great fun to be around, always laughing and joking and wanting to have fun. A few weeks back, we held a barbecue for the contact boys to celebrate their hard work and efforts, and for their contributions in the poultry project. It was evident that the boys had a fun day and it is definitely something we shall organise again.
As part of our team, we decided that we would like to focus on reaching more girls that live and work on the streets of Mutare, as we felt the majority of the Contact Department’s current work focuses on boys. Our first step towards this was to accompany the Simukai staff on a night street visit, as it is more common to find girls working in the evenings. As we walked through town, seeing it in a new light compared to what we were used to seeing, we were forced with the harsh reality of meeting girls who have no other option than to work as sex workers in order to survive. Some of these girls even did this to pay for their children to go to school, putting their children before themselves as many mothers would.
Although it was hard to see, from this we are hoping to engage these girls in sessions concerning Sexual and Reproductive Rights, HIV and Child Rights. We have already conducted a few sessions for the contact boys on Child Rights and responsibilities and HIV & AIDS. These sessions have been both enjoyable for us and the boys and we will continue educating the boys on important issues as the weeks go on.
Written by ICS volunteer Janeena Sahota