Finding opportunities for the children facing a life of despair
Railway Children works with young people around the world who are forced to survive by earning money whatever way they can. Many have been on the streets for years and have nowhere else to go and no other option than just desperately scraping together enough money for food. They find jobs that are demanding and dangerous, putting themselves at risk physically every day. Others are forced into live-in domestic work, used as slaves by families they work for and beaten or punished on a regular basis.
Nubia lived at home with her mum and two little brothers, she stopped school at seven when her mum had another baby. At this point her mother couldn’t afford to keep sending her to school so she was forced to drop out and help around the house – caring for her siblings. No chance to learn to read and write.
The family suffered extreme poverty. There was no father around and with no way of working Nubia’s mother could not support them. When Nubia was just 10 her mother made the agonising decision to sell her daughter to a local family as a household servant – meaning she would have some money to feed the other children.
When Nubia didn’t work fast enough or hard enough she was denied food and her only place to sleep was on the kitchen floor.
She was regularly beaten and after almost a year she ran away from the house, happier to face life on the harsh streets than take any more abuse.
Nubia survived by earning money collecting scrap wood and charcoal to sell to restaurants but had nowhere safe to sleep. Knowing the risk of violence and abuse was high she accepted the protection of one of the city’s many pimps and soon ended up in a shared room with other girls, forced into prostitution in exchange for scraps of food and basic, dirty accommodation. She was just 13 years old.
They helped her find somewhere safe to stay and slowly built up her self esteem and resilience. Recognising that she was a hard-working and capable girl they encouraged her to join our Umoja Girls Youth Association where she soon became a leading member. The group met every week to learn life skills, basic literacy and numeracy and about health and personal hygiene. Led by one of the Railway Children team, each meeting opened Nubia’s eyes to the possibilities and opportunities available to her. Soon she had signed up for a vocational training course and spent 12 months learning tailoring skills and now she has just qualified and is looking for work.
Nubia has so many options for her future now. At 16 she has learnt a trade, understands money and banking and knows what she wants to do with her life. If we hadn’t met her when we did, she would be facing a desperate future with no hope and no escape.
Whether we pay for training courses, help secure apprenticeships or fund small business start-ups we give these young people the skills, the confidence and most of all the opportunities that every child deserves as they grow up.
There are so many more children like Nubia facing a desperate future.
Would pay for our outreach team to run a life skills session with one of our youth associations – helping build their self-esteem and realise that they have a chance to change
A small business start-up grant like this could help a recently trained electrician buy tools and equipment needed to set himself up as an independent businessman