Bloemfontein’s Kidz Care Trust, which has been sheltering homeless children since the beginning of lockdown, has now seen an incline of homeless kids who can be spotted at shopping malls and at stop signs across the city.
Marita van Kraayenburg, Senior Programme Manager at Kidz Care Trust, told Bloemfontein Courant that during their first outreach the organisation had identified 25 homeless kids, which was the highest number they had ever recorded.
“The children move between their home and the streets to beg for money or food, although they are not sleeping/living on the streets full time. Over and above the risk of infection, the children are exposed to drugs, violence and accidents while begging in the streets,” she said.
Kidz Care trust has been urging the public not to give food or money to the begging children. “By providing money or food, members of the public make it possible for the children to continue begging, thus being exposed to the risks and dangers of the street.
The whole idea is to get children away from living on the street. The more ‘comfortable’ they become in the streets, the sooner they will stay overnight and not go back anymore,” she added.
It is, therefore, much better to provide support to an organisation reaching out to the children on condition that the organisation has a track record of not just working with street-living children, but also has knowledge and information on the dynamics of street life.
“By supporting Kidz Care Trust, they are not just helping us provide for the basic needs of the children, but also to win their trust and thus gather important information regarding their family circumstances,” Van Kraayenburg said.
During the lockdown many families could not generate an income and thus could not provide sufficiently for the basic needs of their children. With the schools being closed and not providing a daily meal via the schools’ feeding scheme, the need for food increased. Van Kraayenburg said another reason which is not always considered, is the high level of violence and aggression in families, be it because of increased Covid-19 stress or the usual violence between parents and/or parent and child.
“Before lockdown we received food donations from a handful of dedicated donors, such as Meisieskool Oranje. Currently we need to provide meals to a minimum of 25 children in the CBD area and another 25 children in the townships. An additional 20 food parcels are delivered to the children previously residing at our child and youth care centre and who are now staying with their families,” she said.
Kidz Care Trust is a registered NPO specialising in and providing services and support to children living on the streets of Bloemfontein. Anyone who would like to help, can send a message or phone Marita on 082-775- 2770.