The Invisible Boys
Asiyeonekana watoto mtaani means invisible street kid in Swahili ... and we believe that no child should be invisible.
Uganda has one of the largest populations of young people in the world— half (51%) of its 49 million people are under the age of 15, making up the largest demographic group living in poverty within the country. Poverty, neglect, and sexual, physical and emotional abuse, are leading factors in children leaving home to live on the streets. But the #1 reason given by the kids is their desire to study. They come to the streets looking to make money for school fees. But what happens is something entirely different.
Children living on its streets are some of the most marginalized globally. Abhorred and mistreated, they are vulnerable to physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Many turn to sniffing (a combination of airplane fuel and industrial glue) to dull the pain and, simply put, "to forget." These invisible children sleep on the ground under makeshift shelters, eat only what they can scavenge, and lack access to even the most basic services — including showers, which cost money.
In Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, an estimated 2600 children live on the streets, with on average 16 newcomers daily. 98% of the children sleeping on the streets fulltime are boys.
is the worst part of street life, most children living on the streets say.
Once the sun goes down, life on the street becomes very dangerous. Finding a safe place to sleep is one of the hardest things for street-connected children.
During the night, children are forced to endure beatings, their stuff being stolen, sexual assault, and being arrested.
The authorities and the older youth (18-30) are the two biggest offenders lurking in the dark to terrorize the young boys while they sleep.
Shule Foundation launched the Watoto Mtaani (street kids in Swahili) Project in Uganda to break the cycle of street life and mentor street-connected boys into becoming socially aware, financially independent gentlemen.
Since 2017 Shule Foundation's Watoto Mtaani Project has:
Provided 36,920 meals and 8,780 showers - Clothed 1193 children - Covered the cost of medical care for 452 children - HIV Tested and DeWormed 551 kids - Vaccinated 220 children - Moved 197 children off the streets - Reunited 196 boys with their families - Returned 94 children to school!
Read how our outreaches, skills training, and transitional home help transform lives.
Our outreach program allows our staff to bond with children living on the streets, create trust and invite them to our Drop-In-Center.
Shule kids participate in various activities, classes, and skill-building workshops at our skills training center, preparing them for their new lives.
Our Watoto Mtaani Transitional Home serves as an interim house and bridge between the street and home life. The time our half-wat house provides the boys time to heal.