The Air Liquide Foundation is supporting FACE Children in Need’s ‘street children’ project. This association helps children living on the streets of Cairo with an approach based on respect, to help them sustainably reintegrate society.
The distress of Cairo street children
Over 15 million children in Egypt live in poverty. The city of Cairo, in particular, suffers from overpopulation due to strong urban development over the last 40 years. Many children live in the street and are left to fend for themselves: “In 60 % of cases, the main cause is domestic violence,” explains FACE coordinator Pierre-Louis Leroy. “These children see the street as a refuge, and they experience it that way initially, even if in reality the street exposes them to other forms of violence, drugs, and sexual abuse.”
A gentle approach to earn the children’s trust
FACE’s approach is novel in that it considers these children as victims and not as delinquents, whereas Egyptian society as a whole has a very critical view of them. “They have lost all faith in adults. We go out to meet them in the streets to create a bond with them through non-invasive methods, thanks to games, sporting activities, informal educational activities, and basic healthcare.” The aim is to gradually, over time and with a lot of patience, establish a relationship of trust. “Our drop-in centers have the particularity of being open: the children can come and go as they please, with no restrictions.” FACE wants to encourage the children to make the decision to leave the street on their own. Then, the association offers them a refresher course and training in order to contribute to their sustainable reintegration. The association has helped 655 children reintegrate society in the last five years. FACE also works to change the overly moralistic view of these street children by raising awareness among public authorities and local associations, as well as by developing courses for social workers.
Financing a mini-bus
“Our center in the suburbs of Cairo takes in 105 children every year. We used to have a small four-seater vehicle to take the children to school, to their sports training, or to medical visits, but it wasn’t enough. Thanks to the Air Liquide Foundation’s donation, we were able to buy a 15-seater van, which considerably improved the organization of the children’s travel arrangements! It’s much more practical and the children really enjoy it,” adds Pierre-Louis Leroy.
To find out more
Face For Children’s Website : www.facechildren.org