Many ask why Africa has a vast amount of natural resources, including gold, bauxite, diamonds, oil,iron ore etc, yet many children live on the streets?
Poverty, lack of education and broken homes, are some of the causes which have led to street child explosion in Africa.
In a continent paralyzed by corruption, many are unemployed and those working are poorly paid. They can’t take care of themselves let alone their children. Children who are lucky to escape hard street life end up as child labourers abused by adults.
In such unfriendly atmosphere, facing hunger and violence, many of these children turn to drugs addicts, glue sniffers and indulge in juvenile crimes.
Solving The Plight Of Street Children In Africa
Even though many are not interested in issues pertaining Africa, there are others too that have taken the hardest challenges to cater for the welfare of street children. One of such organisations working directly with street children in Africa, creating a friendly environment and providing educating for them is ‘Koinonia.’
The Koinonia Street Children Rehabilitation Project is an organisation based in Belgium. The project initially took off in Uganda in 2000 and has grown to 4 different projects in the country.
On Monday, July 11, 2016, I called at the offices of ‘Koinonia’ in Antwerp, to meet the founder of the project, Madam Eugenia Daskalopoulou-Tarlizou, to find out why she has taken the challenges of providing educational facilities to poor street children, while many aren’t interested in such non-profit projects?
Below are the excerpts of the interview
Joel: Why did you decide to take the welfare of street children in Africa into consideration?
Eugenia: Firstly, Africa is a continent with a sad history. It’s very hard and emotional to watch documentary films on what many children go through daily without education, food, and shelter and secondly, my close relation with God also inspired me to begin the project to assist street children.
Joel: How challenging it was to begin that project?
Eugenia: I knew how tough it would be to assist children in that situation because many are orphans and psychologically abused, but when you are determined to do something you must be prepared as well to overcome those impediments along the line. You need to leave your home, leaving your children behind, that’s very hard to take sometimes.
Joel: ‘Koinonia,’ is the organisation’s name, is it affiliated with any Belgium organization?
Eugenia: No, it is not affiliated with any Belgium organisation but three years ago, we submitted an application requesting for development subsidy. The outcome is positive just this month.
Joel: Koinonia, is a non-profit organisation running since the year 2000, how do you provide education to those desperate children?
Eugenia: The question is just as tough as the challenges we meet mobilizing people and raising funds. “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.” We run church service and through individuals willing to donate something but always the funds aren’t sufficient to handle the problems in the badly affected communities. Will you quit what you love to do because of lack of money? Not at all, the heart of God always seeks for the needy.
Joel: How do wish to see ‘The Koinonia Street Children Rehabilitation Project’ in the next five or ten years?
Eugenia: The project initially took off in Uganda in 2000 and has grown to 4 different projects in the country. We want to give access to education to children in the poorest rural locations in Uganda too. There is already laid plan to build a large school and what we intend to build is what you saw minutes ago. The project is in its initial stages but we need people’s support to execute it, so we invite everyone interested.
Joel: “Every child that is born into this world should be brought up with love and be educated to become a decent adult,” that’s one of your priorities, how is the life of orphans and street children giving them the opportunity to educational facilities?
Eugenia: It’s like giving them a second life when suddenly finding themselves in the classrooms. One needs courage, Christ’s motivation and the love of God to carry on because it’s a tough job to take care of street children.
Joel: Thank you for your time, Eugenia.
Eugenia: You’re welcome.
The official website of Koinonia Street Children Project: http://www.koinoniakids.org/