“The police see us as criminals not as children.” Anon, Kuleana Centre
Read on for Laura’s third entry, about the importance of engaging the local police in Mwanza:
“One of the best parts of this training is seeing the local police taking part. In many countries police are seen as the enemy of street children and are responsible for roundups and beatings. Here in Mwanza, Joseph Mwami, from the child protection unit, works closely with the Kuleana Centre. Their main focus is community policy and the idea that the community must be involved in order to move forward.
Community is key to working with children from the streets or in difficult situations. Without the support network around a family that an engaged community provides, it is easier for that family to disintegrate and for children to leave home. The Kuleana Centre tries to rehabilitate children who arrive there in a number of ways: by reuniting them with their immediate family, by placing them with other family relatives or by working with the authorities to find a foster care place for them. Sometimes, after exhausting these options, it is just not possible to find somewhere so the children stay at the centre until they are old enough to work and have a place of their own.
Back at the pitch, Joseph was talking about what he had learnt already from the course. Every year the police run a community tournament but in the past it hasn’t engaged people in the way they would like to. Now, he says, he has some new ideas and tools to make the community tournament a big success and address some of the issues in Mwanza that ultimately will reduce crime.
For children from the streets, the efforts that the police here are making to understand their situation must help when they are found on the streets. Because of the reputation of the police, Joseph said that some kids even refer themselves to the police because they know they will get help. This, surely, is a sign that things are changing and that the community here is playing a big part.”
(QPR’s Gareth Dixon is also blogging during his trip. Make sure you have a lookÂ here)
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