STREET CHILD AFRICA
http://www.info@streetchildafrica.org.uk



Click on the item you wish to view :

  1. December 2004 Appeal by Eric Creaney
  2. A Few Steps in Zambia by Felicite Holman
  3. Extract from The Times by Simon Barnes, 18th December 2004
  4. Fundraising Success in Coatdyke (June 2005) by Eric Creaney
  5. Fr Shanahan in Chester (June 2005) by Paul West
  6. Photos from fundraising events in Jersey and Edinburgh (2005)
  7. A Trip to Accra : photos from Eric Creaney



December 2004

Dear Pelicans

Fr. Patrick Shanahan's charity, Street Child Africa, is being featured as the overseas charity in The Times Christmas appeal and his work, especially in Accra, will be illustrated by feature stories and photographs.

Have a look at the appeal on-line at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/section/0,,4647,00.html

How about making a 'place' for one at your Christmas Dinner Table by contributing the cost of an extra place with you on Christmas Day ?

You could go straight to the Street Child Africa web-site at http://www.streetchildafrica.org.uk/ and if you feel inclined donate direct to SCA.

It takes about £200 a day to fund the 5 crèches, about 900 babies, we have in Accra.

I would love to see one day a month in our crèches in Accra called Pelicans' Day after about 200 Pelicans pledge about £1 per month with an SOM - they can be downloaded from the SCA web-site (indicate on the form that it is a Pelican donation).  We can arrange for a photo illustrating this to be sent back and inserted in the web-sites just as we have for some schools .
Eric Creaney


A crèche in Accra acknowledging funding for that week came from a school called
St. John Ogilvie Primary.


A Few Steps in Zambia

Felicite Holman
Office Manager for Street Child Africa
July 2004



Of course, nothing can ever prepare you for the culture shock of visiting the streets in a large African city. As a tourist visiting Lusaka, you would see the main streets, perhaps visit the market and be overwhelmed by the general hubbub and activity, the huge range of goods on sale and the clamour and energy of so many people. Travelling from the airport or the station you would quickly pass by the compounds or shanties and drive to your guest house or hotel. You would have a glimpse of the poverty on the road from the airport – rickety old bicycles laden high with what seems to be rubbish – but what can be sold on for a few kwachas. There is a price for everything in Zambia – even a modest plastic bag. By the time you reach the center, you have already seen what you may have expected, a kind of poverty you have been told you would witness - ramshackle buildings, unfinished roadways, open drains, everyone walking and a general worn down feel to the buildings and vehicles. But then you would probably head away from this and drive into the wealthier districts along beautifully planted boulevards to your accommodation and behind the high metal gate of your residence you could so easily forget.

But come with me, and I can take you to a different place. A place so different all your preconceptions about poverty and desperation are blown away. To live in Western Europe and in a country with social welfare is a reality so many of us just take for granted.

My guide, Jonas, a young Zambian social worker, who is Programme Co-ordinator at Cemost, leads me away from the busy cross roads and down a narrow alley way. At the back of the old buildings, a few people were sitting around a fire, cooking some meat and mealy meal, a type of maize, a staple. They may not have shoes, they are dressed in rags but they have cooking pots, they are eating. This is poverty I was expecting and still I found it shocking. We walked past several groups like this and down another alley way past piles of stinking rubbish and open sewers and out into wasteland behind the market. The sun was high and my eyes struggled to make out that this was where I was supposed to be walking, it was like one huge refuse dump, small piles of rubbish smoking, coils of rusty wire and old pipes sticking out of the ground – and the ground like grey , cold dust. There is the overriding stink of old decaying food and open sewage. The dust is everywhere, and although the sun is shining, there is a cold breeze. This is the Zambian winter.

My guide points to what seems to be a pile of old sacks and as we approached I realized that we are looking at a shelter. A shelter that has been built by children, children no older than mine, children living in amongst the rubbish that even the poor cannot recycle to sell. My heart is full of pain for these children. I was not prepared to see this degree of desperation. And the pain is ten fold when out of the miserable stinking sacks steps a boy, a young beautiful boy, with no shoes, filthy clothes and a face that is haunted.
As I write I cannot avoid clichés as these are the phrases that rush into my head. All I can recall is that I saw children who will never know what it is like to be a child. They will never have the privileges that my own children or millions of children all over the world enjoy.
Where do you start with the list of human needs that these children have been denied through no fault of their own? I was shocked to think that my dog has a better life than these children.

No regular food, no clean water, no clean clothes, no books, no toys, no education, no privacy, no security, no health care. But what I found the hardest thing to accept was that these children have no love, no support, no mother or father to hug them, no one to guide them through their growing up, no one to laugh with them, no one to care for them when they are ill, no one to protect them. And they are invisible to most of the people around them. In Lusaka they are not victimised but neither are they helped. Admittedly I would like to think that they have companionship with their motley gang of street friends, but friends can quickly turn into adversaries when resources are so precious.

I wanted to reach out to every single one and help. I wanted to hug them and tell them that everything would change and their lives would be safe and secure and they could have a future ahead full or promise and dreams.

But of course, these children cannot allow themselves to think like this. They can only think as far as the next meal, how are they going to pay for it? How can they stop their friends stealing the few paper bags they have to sell? How can they stop being attacked with a screwdriver, like one small boy I met, whose lip was swollen and bloody.
Every child and youth that I meet has a different heart-breaking story to tell. How can a child as young as ten live alone on the streets? One little boy ‘Jones’ cannot tell me how old he is, my guide tells me that he has been living on the streets for so long he does not remember when he was born. He only remembers that his parents were from Kitwe, one of the Copperbelt towns in the north of Zambia, and they are both dead now. He traveled down to Lusaka along the train tracks – jumping trains to reach the city. He shares a shelter with other boys – there are regular fights over food, space in the shelter. It is ‘winter’ in Zambia – cold at night, but he has no blankets, no jumper or coat, just an old filthy shirt and torn jeans. But he has a smile like a fog lamp.

Jonas tells me that the boys sniff petrol or glue in order to get to sleep as it is so cold at night. There is evidence everywhere of malnutrition, drug abuse, skin diseases, chest infections to name but a few. And then in the heat of a Zambian summer there is the threat of recurring malarial infections. Many of these children and youths have unprotected sex – either with an older partner or as a service brought by visitors to the streets at night. Many have STD’s and of course, the threat of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis is very real. These children have no protection, virtual or physical. And I see no girls – girls I am told, sleep all day, as they are on the streets at night, working …

I ask permission and take photos. I want to bring evidence of the plight of these boys to everyone I meet. And the amazing thing is, that every single boy I meet will say ‘hello’ and smile shyly. After a little time they tell me their names and how old they are, some of the less shy ones tell me about the families they have left behind, or where in Lusaka they stay. In a few short minutes I know their whole life story, this is the extent of their lives, a life on the streets in the dust and the filth. I feel lost for words, as there is so little I can share with them. I try to share a smile but find so many other emotions get in the way.

But in amongst the tragedy of young lives being abused and wasted there is good news, and it is the good news that I need to tell you as much as the bad. In Zambia, all over Africa, non government agencies are trying to help these young dispossessed citizens. For example, Street Child Africa helps a particular agency in Lusaka, a young organization which has achieved great things in a very short space of time. They have social workers and a network of helpers on the streets, so that the boys can get to know and trust an adult who may be able to help if they are ill, if they are in trouble with the police, if they need advice. The agency has started to run programmes that empower the boys to start selling goods to make a small profit to buy food. Some of the older boys are encouraged to join schemes, such as the garbage collection scheme, where card and paper are collected and sold on to the paper mills at a small profit. The older boys are encouraged to try and save something with the agency, so that they can rent a shack in the compound. Some medical care is given, but again, this is an area which is currently under resourced.

We need more funds to help agencies such as this in Zambia but all over Africa. There are young committed African social workers who are not blind to the street children, and who are also aware that the situation could rapidly increase as the economies fail to revive, and the HIV/Aids epidemic leaves more and more families without parents. There is no going back for these street children; the families they have left are gone, the communities that raised them have been shattered by unemployment and poverty.

We need to provide a life line for these children who have nothing. The next generation of street children is already here, babies born to young mothers on the streets. We need to offer some real hope and try to turn their young lives around. Such a little goes such a long way in Africa. Regular giving to Street Child Africa ensures that we are able to sustain our funding relationship with our partners, and so see real results with the children I have met. With a little effort small miracles can happen. One small miracle can turn a child’s life around. I have seen it in the well nourished happy faces of boys ready to learn a skill, or to be re-integrated with a family member.


Help us help them.

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Street children who cry out for respect
By Simon Barnes      The Times   December 18, 2004

Our correspondent meets the founder and shuttle-apostle of the charity Street Child Africa.
To visit Africa as a tourist is to learn about the frightening, ineluctable forces that shape life: why the antelope must sleep with the lion, why the leopard must submit to the hyena and how suffering is a window of opportunity.

But as the tourists flee the cities at the moment of touchdown, so the cities are the motherlode for countless children, moving in the opposite direction, brought to the streets by terrible, inescapable forces.

These are children who have become non-children, non-people, living in unofficial places in an unacknowledged way: a furtive, secret, terrifying, ten-to-one-against sort of life that is not supposed to exist. And anybody who acknowledges that street life exists has but one conclusion: it is bad, it must be stopped.
Odd, then, to travel to Thames Ditton, of all the incongruously comfortable places, to hear a passionate justification of the African street children, and their right to live as they do. The charity, Street Child Africa, was established six years ago by Father Patrick Shanahan, and its founding principle is that street children have a right to the street.

It is a startling notion, at odds with the conventional wisdom of aid and charity. Father Shanahan is a man of quietly unstoppable passions, and he believes that any kind of work with street children can begin only with respect for them. They come to the street for drearily inevitable reasons: death of parents, escape from starvation. The streets represent a rosy life, a beacon of hope, a chance of survival. It follows that the horrors they have escaped do not bear thinking about.

They come to the streets and join a dark, unacknowledged economy, picking up cash by portering, cleaning, begging, prostitution. There is a community, a culture. Father Shanahan talked about one small group that lived together, under the guidance of a head of household: a girl aged 8. He once asked 100 street children in Accra, the Ghanain capital, if they would go to school if the chance was offered. Two of the children said yes. One, in a remark that haunts him, asked: "What for, your school?"

"This is their home. Where else can they go? They have nowhere else. There is nowhere else." The street children must be acknowledged as people living in a proper and legitimate way. Everything springs from that huge leap of acceptance.

It doesn't look nearly as neat as rounding up lorryloads of children and carting them off to a place with which they have no association. It is a process of trust, Father Shanahan says, one that begins with "a significant adult". He believes in giving children access to this significant grown-up: a young African, not peddling religion or morality or judgment, but instead prepared to learn the streets, accept the countless rebuffs, earn respect and, crucially, give respect back in return.

Only then can further steps can be taken: opportunities for healthcare, advice, education. Street Child Africa does all this by supporting local partners in some of the most forbidding places in the world.

The children live as pariahs and accept that role. Pregnant girls will not accept antenatal care, anticipating insult and rejection. The significant adult can change that, but only when he is accepted. "People see the streets as evil," Father Shanahan said. "But where the child is, there you must begin."

"You begin by accepting that reality. If you begin with a fantasy, all your interventions will be dubious. The child is in the street, and if I don't know the street, I don't know the child, and the child won't talk to me."

There is a revolution in his words: a revolution in thought. It involves a willingness to see life from the child's point of view, accept that the child has a vote, a choice, a right.

And so Father Shanahan powers onwards, between Africa and Thames Ditton, a shuttle-apostle of trust.

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Fundraising Success in Coatdyke
A brief report by Eric Creaney


part of an email from Eric Creaney :

I raised over 3000 with the Zambian WF, Fr. Felix Phiri, (Patrick was in Ghana) last weekend at Holy Trinity and All Saints, Coatdyke, and we have another one in St. margaret's, Airdrie, with Patrick at the end of August. 

Is it any wonder the Times christened Patrick as the 'shuttle-apostle'?


(source : Eric Creaney)

"The photo shows us after the appeal with the local MSP, Elaine Smith, and The Rt Honourable Tom Clarke MP."


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Fr Shanahan in Chester Appeal

by Paul West



(source : Paul West)

Fr Pat Shanahan
, June 2005, taking the Chester train back to London
after yet another appeal for Street Child Africa.

I was lucky enough to catch up with him at St Clare's Church in Lache,
near Chester. We had a most enjoyable 2 hours talking over old times
and discussing his work with the charity — which has him shuttling back
and forth to the 6 African countries where the project operates.

Pat spends roughly half the year in Africa and the rest of the time travelling
the UK, making appeals alongside his network of volunteers (of which there
are now 70+). At the Mass he celebrated in Lache, he gave us a short and
poignant description of the plight of the countless African street kids who have been left
orphans by the scourge of AIDS ; where all too often survivors of a tender age are left
to scrape a living to feed younger brothers and sisters.

The simple but stark statistic that he quoted put the problem firmly in perspective :
half the population of Africa is now under the age of fifteen — a demographic distortion
which is surely unique in the history of humankind, posing untold challenges for the future.

He also made the point that 'making poverty history' is a long-term endeavour, not a quick-fix
as some would like us to believe.


If you would like to help Pat and his team by becoming a volunteer or by organising
an event to raise money, click on this link to the SCA website.


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Photos from fundraising events in Jersey and Edinburgh (2005)



(source : Eric Creaney)

Fr Patrick Shanahan WF, presented with a cheque from the Jersey Catenians
after giving a talk to this gathering of representatives from all denominations



(source : Eric Creaney)

Father Shanahan, with young people who attended the Make Poverty History Rally in Edinburgh 2005

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In February this year (2006) Eric and Fr Pat Shanahan were fundraising in Jersey, making contact with some of Eric's friends. Immediately after this trip, Eric took off for Accra, to see at first hand the way in which the donations to Street Child Africa are being put to good use.

On leaving the UK he wrote "It has taken 53 years from starting at St. Boswell's for me to get there! "

Below are some of the photos that others took of his visit
—which, as you can plainly see, he thoroughly enjoyed.

"Yes, it was a real eye-opener" he said on his return. "There is so much to be done. But the people that I met were gave me such a welcome and the project is so worthwhile—I've come back even more determined to lend a hand raising funds where and when I can."




(source : Eric Creaney)



(source : Eric Creaney)

 



(source : Eric Creaney)



(source : Eric Creaney)

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