The role of the church in the rehabilitation of street children with special reference to Nairobi area an ecumenical perspective
Mathenge, Jane N
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This study set out to investigate what the Church was doing to eradicate the problem of street children in Kenya. It was found out that no other study had been done on the subject. It was argued that the Church was part of the society that was faced with the problem and therefore had a theological mandate to find solutions to the problem. The study had five chapters and the following lS an abstract of its content. ) To begin with, the problem of the study was identified as the increasing number of children in the urban streets with seemingly no solution. The significance of this study was justified. This study had five objectives which were, to find out the place of a child in the past and contemporary societies; to study the factors behind the problem of street children, to investigate their needs; to find out what the Church had done to eradicate the problem and to attempt at finding solutions to the problem. The study also had three hypothesis. It was assumed that the Church being too involved in the spiritual life of the people had forgotten their social problems as it had not responded to the problem of street children~ It was also assumed that the church had a theological mandate to find solution to the problems of street children. In this study some literature was reviewed. Also various research techniques were employed to collect the desired data. These included library and archive research, in-depth interview, questionnaire method and participant observation. Also there was review of documents dealing with street children from the Church, the NGOs and the Government. The study also has spelled out some problems encountered in this study. These include heavy rains during the period of study, unwilling response from the informants among other problems. The study tried to find out the place of a child in the past and contemporary society. The ultimate aim was to find out where the contemporary society has failed its children by comparing the place of a child today, in the traditional African societies and the biblical world view. It was established that the child in these two olden societies was highly va~ued and was accorded all the protection he or she needed, by the society. With changing social, political and economic situation the child today belongs to the nuclear family and in case the family is in difficult conditions the child also is in difficult conditions. The study also looked into the phe~omena of street children. Attempts were made to find out the history of the phenomena in Kenya. It was established that the phenomena of street children was a creation of land alienation during colonial time causing a lot of suffering to the Africans. The study also tried to find out the factors behind the problem of street children. These factors were identified as social, political, and economic. The problems encountered by the street children have also been discussed. These problems include all forms of child abuse like imprisonment, child labour, lack of basic needs like shelter, food, education, etc. In this study various responses to the problem of street children by the government; the society; the non governmental organizations; the street children to their own problems and finally the response of the Church have been discussed. It has been found out that the Church has responded positively and has designed both curative and preventive strategies to combat the problem. The study concluded that the Church had a role to play in the rehabilitation of street children. In total 75% of the Churches visited had rehabilitation programmes .. Despite this, the Church was criticized for lack of coordination and corporation. It was suggested that, for better services, the Church and any other Religious Body concerned, need to have their activities co ordinated. Finally, the study has recommended a further research on the subject especially in the area of drugs.