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Supporting street children in Kinshasa
We’re providing a vital lifeline for street children — especially girls
and young women living violent, dangerous lives on the streets of
one of Kinshasa’s roughest neighbourhoods. Our night ambulance
and drop-in centre are helping girls to keep safe on, and ultimately
to leave the streets – where most are forced into selling sex just to survive.
Decades of conflict in the Congo have left millions of people in desperate poverty and without a functioning welfare state to rely on. Tens of thousands of children live on the streets of the capital Kinshasa.
Some have to earn money to help supplement their meagre family income. Some are living on the streets because their families simply couldn’t afford to feed and care for them.
Life on the streets is an extremely tough and often violent existence. Many children collect scrap plastic or beg for food and money. Some turn to robbery and many develop alcohol and drug dependencies as a means of coping with the brutality of their everyday life. Lots of the girls are forced into prostitution as a means of survival. It’s not uncommon for them to have babies of their own as a result of these encounters.
What we're doing
Our ambulance tours the streets of Tshangu district 6 nights a week. It provides vital medical and social care to street girls
We’ve built a safe-haven for girls to come to during the day. They can leave their babies here knowing they’ll get the food and nurturing environment they need. The girls and young women can also get a free education, medical help and support to build a life away from the streets. It also provides emergency accommodation for girls in acute danger.
As well as treating the symptoms, we’re also tackling the problem at its source. We’re working with the police and military, street boys and other men to tackle harmful attitudes towards girls, and tackling impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence against them.
We offer family mediation for those children who want to try and move back home, help them to get back into school, or earn a living alternative to sex work.
It costs just £74 per night for our ambulance to provide vital care and support for vulnerable girls living extraordinarily tough lives on the streets of Kinshasa.
17 year old Bernadette ended up on the streets after her mum tried to force her to marry a 56 year old man.
Find out what happened next and how War Child is helping her...