A survivor of the streets, 16-year-old Benson is standing up for Kenya’s street children.
Benson is from Kenya, East Africa, where almost half of the population live below the poverty line leaving tens of thousands of children with no choice but to survive on the streets alone. Benson was just eight years old when he began living on the streets.
“At home we were six children. I used to stay with parents and they were unable, I just decided to go out of home, and I went to the street.”
After four years drifting across Kenya, Benson arrived in Mombasa. Life on the streets was very difficult, and like so many street children he became dependent on drugs.
When Benson was just 10 years old he was arrested in a police round up and put into an adult prison. His only crime being he did not have a home. Benson spent the next two months sharing a cell with hardened criminals whilst denied access to a lawyer or an adult to speak for him. He was never charged with a crime or taken to court.
Glad’s House, our partner project based in Mombasa working to support street children, had made contact with Benson and organised his release. They invited him to attend their drop in centre where he was able to speak to social workers, receive drug rehabilitation support and play football. Benson now lives with his foster carer and works hard at school.
“It helps me to achieve my dreams because it encourages me and it makes me to have good grades so that I can go to college.”
Benson has proven that with the protection, support and opportunities that all children are entitled to he can realise his goals and inspire other street children to do the same. In 2014 Benson was chosen to captain Kenya and represent the millions of street children across the world at the Street Child World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
“My goal at the Street Child World Cup was to make sure that my friends who are still on the streets, to show them that even they are very important, and they can come out of the street.”
Since returning home from Rio, Benson has been invited to sit on the County Children’s Assembly acting as an ambassador for Mombasa and Kenya’s street children.
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“No child should have to live on the streets and I fully endorse this campaign giving street children a voice to claim their rights”
“When ever people come across me they laugh. It seems like my mouth is zipped because they talk for us. I wish they could give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”
“It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Street Child World Cup at Downing Street. It gives children a voice through football, sales a platform to express their rights and celebrate their abilities – I’m proud to add my support.”