International Day for Street Children

by ACT

  • Posted on April 14, 2017

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The 6th International Day for Street Children took place last Wednesday, 12th April 2016, and served to provide a platform for the millions of street children around the world whose rights are routinely ignored.

The International Labour Organization and UNICEF estimate that there are 30 million street children in Africa. Poverty is listed as the main factor driving children to the streets, with ancillary factors including escaping from extreme violence at the hands of parents and authority figures. Some children are sent out by their impoverished parents to work or beg. Others have lost their families through war or illness, and some have simply been abandoned because they have become too much of a burden. These street children scrabble to maintain the most basic form of existence. They polish shoes, wash windscreens, pick pockets and beg. Most of them take drugs when they can, and are malnourished and sick. Street life is dirty, violent and short.

Children who live on the streets of Africa are at the constant risk of abuse, violence, and exploitation. Rape and sexual violence is a common occurrence, with girls particularly vulnerable. Alone, hungry and with no support or protection, the situation is often worse than it would be at home.

This year’s International Day for Street Children focused on the theme of ‘more than meets the eye. Treated as delinquents or as an embarrassing nuisance, these children are still too often ‘cleaned’ off the streets. It is hoped that the International Day for Street Children 2017 will mobilise a worldwide movement that touches 12 million people who can help to make sure that children living on the streets are seen not as criminals or victims, but as individuals with potential.

“It is deeply distressing that Governments allow children in the streets to be routinely abused, ignored and marginalised. International Day for Street Children is a unique opportunity for the world to focus attention on children who are surviving, coping and growing up in public spaces. These are children whose rights are violated every day.

The more we collectively see these children as victims or delinquents, as children who need to be rescued, or even punished, the more our Governments will continue to fail children in streets – by shutting them away or providing hopelessly inadequate services…We see children. We see potential’’. 

Dr. Sarah Thomas de Benitez, CEO of Consortium for Street Children

What does ACT do to help street children?

Our work is preventative. ACT has worked to stop hundreds of children from turning to the streets. Our vision has also been to give disadvantaged children the opportunity to achieve their full potential in life and break the cycle of poverty among poor people in Africa.


“It was just at the time when I was thinking about joining the streets that ACT found me. So to speak, it was right at the door of delinquency that ACT held out its hand to me.”

David, Burkina Faso (ACT sponsored 2001-2014)


We believe that by educating a child we are developing a nation. We believe that each child has talent within them, and our objective is to help each child we support to achieve their full potential in life.  We do this through providing access to primary and secondary schools in their communities, and where possible we help children go on to tertiary education.  This means supporting some children for fourteen years or more. Since 1998 we have provided nearly 1200 children with full educational scholarships and helped 3505 children with welfare support. Sixty-six ACT-sponsored children have gone on to obtain a graduate degree or diploma, whilst another 36 are currently studying towards their degrees.

ACT child sponsorship enables us to stop children from turning to the streets. It provides an opportunity to transform lives and change the circumstances of children like David. Find out how you can help here.

If you’re interested in supporting our work you can read more here.

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