John* was 15 years old when he started living on the streets of Nakuru in eastern Kenya. His parents had both passed away and his four siblings were already working on the streets as luggage carriers. Once he had finished primary school, John joined them, carrying luggage and selling paper bags to earn money to survive. As is often the case with young people living on the streets, John also began selling and taking drugs.


In Kenya, children often run away from their families and communities as a result of economic hardship, bereavement or domestic violence, living a life of risk and vulnerability on the streets in places like Nakuru and Nairobi. Without rights, opportunities or a support network, they struggle to survive and, at risk of exploitation, abuse and violence, they often turn to crime and substance abuse.


Together with our local project partner, Undugu Nakuru, we work with children living on the streets like John so they have the opportunity to change their own futures. Through the Undugu Street Teams, we create supportive self-help groups called Street Associations, through which young men and women are given business and life skills training, counselling and mentorship so they can leave the streets.


In 2016, John became a member of the Vegas Boys Street Association in Nakuru. John actively participated in the weekly meetings with the Street Team, taking part in football tournaments, camping trips, life skills session and workshops, which helped him to stop taking drugs. Using his skills and his passion, he went on to complete a driving course as part of the Street Associations Programme, and is now employed as a tuktuk driver!


*Name has been changed to maintain confidentiality.