Street children are a common sight in many of the urban cities of the world and we each have our own perspectives about these children. Many of us view them as a menace, lumpens, out of control and criminals that we would rather avoid at all costs. This is because, often times street children are portrayed as criminals, gang members, law breakers and rioters among other things. The story is almost the same across the globe.
One Kyusa alumnus is a former street boy. Today he is a fully grown man, husband, father and business owner. A couple of years ago, he started an art business that majors in upcycling plastic and glassware into light fixtures both for interior and exterior decoration. Together with his wife, Ssaava has slowly grown his business into an arts and cultural enterprise that not only makes light decorations but also makes a variety of hand crafts from locally available materials targeting both local and foreign customers.
After the initial Kyusa business class, Ssaava expressed dissatisfaction in the fact that his business was not creating enough social impact as he desired. We coached him on how to scale social impact in his business and later he signed up for the social business class. In redesigning his business model, he opted to extend their value chain to include street children as a means of rehabilitating them and equipping them to become financially independent.
We worked with Ssaava in articulating his concept and was able to win a grant of $1,000 from The Pollination Project.
They started recruiting street boys who were involved in collecting scrap for sale. They offered them a business option that was safer and more sustainable. They started with 10 boys who they trained in how to pick and sort trash as well as prepare it for up-cycling. This drastically reduced the work load for Ssaava and his wife while it created stable income sources for these boys.
Eventually some of the boys picked interest in producing the final products and five were adopted into their production team. The boys now work with Ssaava as apprentices with the hope that once they perfect the skills, they can be able to start their own businesses and hopefully get off the streets to live a normal life.
However not all the boys want to do art as a source of livelihood so they are supported to pursue their own dreams. One of the boys has been saving his money and recently started a snack stall in his community making and selling chapatis (local snack). He says the income he earned from this project has helped him achieve his dream of becoming financially independent and society has accepted him because he was coached by Ssaava on how to live among people.
This is evidence that street life is not a preference for these children but rather a last resort. They are forced to live on the streets for various reasons but many of them are willing to embrace another life if given an opportunity. At Kyusa we believe that every life matters and we are proud that our program alumni are equally committed to reaching the unreached masses in our communities. Together we can create a world where every youth has the opportunity to live to their full potential. Lets ‘Kyusa’ the world, one life at a time. Your contribution matters!!
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