Thursday, January 17, 2008


The growing number of abused and neglected street children throughout the world, often the victims of political conflict, war, criminal gangs, HIV-AIDS and economic exploitation, is alarming. Estimates vary, but an oft-cited UNICEF figure is that the number of children living independently in the streets, most aged between 10 and 14 years, totals between 100 million and 150 million worldwide, and is forecast by 2020 to have increased to 800 million.

Put that way it looks insurmountable. Of course it is the political, economic, social and cultural-religious problems underlying the crisis that need to be addressed. But grassroots humanitarian and community-building responses are also vital. I heard of one such at my local church, St Stephen's in Exeter, on Sunday. Ian Harvey and Mark Gant are doing a remarkable job establishing a project called Kimbilio (Swahili for a place of refuge) in Congo's second city, Lubumbashi. There are some 250,000 street children in DRC alone.

You can find out more about Kimbilio here and at the Congo Children Trust online, which is also receiving PayPal donations. The project is being established in cooperation with the local Anglican Church, and with some support by CMS and others here.

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