International Women's Day!
This International Women’s Day StreetInvest wants to say a HUGE thank you to all the amazing women across the StreetInvest network, who support street-connected children through their work, directly or indirectly, every day. Their work enables some of the most hard to reach and excluded children to access their rights, be safer on the streets and foster a sense of belonging to their communities, without renouncing their connections to the street. To mark today, here a four women who have dedicated their lives to supporting children in Kenya, the UK and India.
Poppy: StreetInvest Trustee
“I'm committed to street children because they are just that. Children. And all children ought to be committed to.”
Poppy has been working in support of street connected children in one way or another since she was taken on as a work placement at Street Child Africa, when she was only 15.
Shortly after in 2007 she arranged two visits to Sierra Leone to understand more about the issues for herself. This was followed by another visit to Ghana in 2008, to conduct research into police violence towards street children. During this time Poppy started to see parallels between her own difficult experiences growing up, and those of the young people StreetInvest was supporting.
This only went to strengthen her resolve: a stint as StreetInvest’s Fundraising and Operations Officer and nearly 10 years later, Poppy now sits on StreetInvest’s Board of Trustees.
I asked her what she would say to young women who want to make an impact on the world, but maybe don’t know where to start: “It doesn't matter who or where you are. All change starts with noise. Anyone can make noise, so make as much as you can until someone takes notice!”
Durga and Monalisa: Street workers on the Change Agent Programme, CINI, Kolkata, India
Durga and Monalisa are some the newest additions to the now 13 strong street work team at CINI, our Partner based in Kolkata. They joined as salaried members of the team in June 2017. Prior to this both young women were themselves street-connected, living in and around the Sealdah Station area where CINI’s street team are based. They received direct support from the street workers, and were involved in many of the team’s group activities.
Now Durga and Monalisa are using their personal experiences from the streets to impact street-connected children’s lives in a positive way. The programme is innovative in its approach. It celebrates the Change Agent’s pasts by reframing their experiences as resulting in strengths, rather than focussing on vulnerability. The opportunity to help others facing similar challenges not only benefits the children being supported, but empowers the Change Agents through skills training, salaries and positioning them as positive role models in the community. Durga said:
“When I was alone these street workers accompanied me and now I am accompanying the children in their lives. The feeling of being a trustworthy adult for the chilren is really amazing.”
Liz: Director of Glad’s House, Mombasa, Kenya
Liz is one of the Directors of Glad’s House, our Partner in Kenya. She is responsible for jointly responsible for the planning, staffing and activities for the whole organisation. She is also one of StreetInvest’s Trainers, and has lead Introduction to Street Work and One to One Engagement training for other street workers. In November last year, she flew to Kolkata, India, to lead an intensive two week training programme for 15 street works at CINI and Little Big Help. The participants included Change Agents, Durga and Monalisa.