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According to a joint study by UNICEF and the Togolese government, around 6,000 children live on the streets of Togo without any social orientation points. They are left to their own devices they no longer have any caregivers or role models and only very few still have contact with their families. Many can hardly remember a regular family life with parents or relatives and have lost all habits associated with family life. On the streets these children, most between 10 and 16 years old are forced to love like adults and lose the privilege of carefree childhood.
Hälsa International has been committed to the reintegration of street children in their family and communities since 2012.
This approach has been approved by several national and international organizations because it recognizes and support the central role of the family in the development of a child. Several studies show that the lack of family care and a regulated living environment are the causes of various mental disorders in many children around the world. According to Kevin Fiashinou , director of Hälsa International Togo, the family is the first and most important framework in which children learn and socialize
In order to strengthen the contact of the street children with their families we organized a large picnic on the premises of the GTA insurance company in August. This initiative had two goals:
On the one hand more than a hundred street children were given opportunity to meet their families in an uncomplicated setting and to experience the happiness and carefree life of a normal childhood for a day, On the other hand we took the opportunity to mobilize and raise awareness among the civilian population and to raise the awareness of children.
We have invited well-know personalities to talk and to met with the children . We are proud that the former Prime Minister of Togo Joseph Kokou Koffigoh and other politicians, singer and comedians have accepted our invitation.
More than 250 from different areas volunteered to serve the 150 street children who fully enjoyed the day with the picnic and attention. “ This is the first time in my life that I can choose what I want to eat. I am usually satisfied with the leftovers in the bars but today I was spoiled for choice,”says Merveille who has been living on the streets for years. Enoch couldn't believe that he had spent his day with people he usually “only sees on TV in the roadside workshop! Séssimé who spent more than five years on the street was happy:” Usually people chase us away when we approach events like this. They treat us like thieves and bandits.
When we got here today I thought it would happen again but to my surprise we were the stars! People came to us and tried to understand why we live on the street . We were able to play in peace like everyone else without fear of being rejected. “
This initiative by Hälsa International Togo was supported by child protection organizations such as MAREM, Terre des Hommes, YMCA Togo, Yali Dakar, Girls´Motion, der Internationalen Organisation der Frankoponie, France Voluntairs and many other youth associations and was also very well received by the Togolese government, The initiative was also funded by several companies, including Brasserie de Lomé, GTA Assurances, NATU-THE, Choco TOGO, Espaces Architeures, Voltic Togo and many others and it was in both international and national media reported, e.g.. by Deutsche Welle, France 24, BB Afrique, LFRII, Gnadoe Magasine, Ocean News, Savoirs News, @ Lomé.
The participants were also enthusiastic about the course of the day: “We often look for ways to support humanitarian purposes but it is often difficult for us to find credible initiatives. Today I think I found the right niche for it. After speaking to the children in person we realized how much work Hälsa International Togo is doing for the benefit of these isolated and marginalized children. We hope to be able to accompany them as best we can in the future, “Said Yolande Lawson. Henriette Agbodjan adds:” It is our duty to protect children from the insecurities and danger of the street. We have to support these organizations that are committed to protecting children's right, “ Everyone involved hopes to be able to repeat the event son and expand it further next time.