Everywhere you go in the world there will always be street kids and orphans. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable. Life is not always as neat and tidy for everyone as we would hope. Some children have challenges that many of us cannot fathom. It’s how we as a society treat the most vulnerable children that shows our character.
In Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, the latest numbers say there are around 2000 street kids, says Kenny Hau, outreach coordinator at Fountain of Hope. With a total population size of 14 million in Zambia, there are a total of 75,000 street kids throughout the country.
Since 1996, Fountain of Hope has helped street kids in Lusaka find their rightful place in life as carefree, cared for children. Fountain of Hope is a community center that houses children as residents until they are able or ready to go back home or are placed in a home. Some children stay for six months, others much longer. There are no strict guidelines; only the consistent help a child needs.
Fountain of Hope also provides an open space for kids to play, food to eat, a library, school, and tech center where they can learn and hone their skills as well as the support and encouragement to leave the streets. Leaving the streets, of course, is not an easy option for children. Being a street kid is through no fault of their own, so getting off the street poses problems especially if they live in an unstable home, or have no home to call their own.
Through a program at Fountain of Hope called Sport in Action that is supported by Save the Children, the kids who come to Fountain of Hope every day are able to learn intrinsic lessons about working together, caring for one another, having self-esteem, and not succumbing to peer pressure. These values are important to teach children who have to struggle to stay alive, stay off of drugs, and not rely on crime to simply eat and make it to the next day.
While I visited Fountain of Hope this week I saw quickly how popular and important the Sport in Action program is for both the girls and the boys who attend the center. In the center courtyard the kids play soccer, traditional Zambian games, volleyball, and basketball. I was impressed by the attitudes of the children who although live on the streets are striving to be regular kids with homes and loving caregivers and who use sport to build character.