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Life is never adorable for orphans and vulnerable youth who languish in the streets of Zambia’s major towns and cities. It is a journey punctuated by neglect, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, harsh weather, and sometimes prostitution to make ends meet. The youth are deprived of their life-values and self-esteem.
Children’s Town project rehabilitates former street youth by providing them vocational training and psychosocial counselling in order for them to reclaim their life-values and self-esteem. The project is located in Malambanyama area in Chibombo District and was established in 1990.
The youth are trained in carpentry and joinery, welding, shop keeping, construction and tailoring. They also learn agricultural production including gardening and animal husbandry. The youth are part of both production and marketing.
The youth are in charge of their training and take part in running the “Town” through their participation in planning and evaluation meetings, decision making, as well as taking turns in the kitchen to cook for themselves and through other collective activities in the project. Actually, much of the training is carried out when the youth practically take part in running the income generating activities in Children's Town.
Using the knowledge and skills gained in skills training, the children engage in production of various commodities. For instance, some students who are trained in tailoring begin producing school uniforms for the community school at the “Town” while those that are in the agriculture class cultivate food crops such as cabbages, rape, tomatoes as well as taking part in rearing animals like goats, chicken, pigs, and those that do carpentry produce furniture for the “Town” and for selling in the community.
During their second year in Children’s Town, the students are sent on attachments to various organisations where they practise the skills they will have acquired during the course of their training at the project.
DAPP is in the process of securing that successful skills training students sit for the National Trade Test examinations organised by the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Training Authority (TEVETA) so that the youth can have trade certificates up completion of their training.
Presently, there are 89 students in vocational training at Children’s Town.
Most youths who come from the streets have little or no experience of parental care or love. Upon arrival at Children’s Town, the youths are thus integrated into a family group. The family consists of between 5 to 15 children and an educator. In the family, the youths find caring adults who assist them with personal problems, parental guidance and love. They find children who become their close friends as brothers and sisters.
They start their vocational training and social development with the base in the family structure. They learn to keep themselves healthy and have many discussions concerning HIV/ AIDS within their family. Conflicts arise and are solved – as in any family – and the children learn continuously. The youths that have been abused or for other reasons need special counselling are attended to promptly.
Community School for OVC
This community school follows the normal government curriculum and teachers are seconded from the Ministry of Education. The children in grade 7 and 9 sit for examinations prepared by the Examination Council of Zambia. Children who qualify for High Schools are supported by bursaries from the government, Chibombo district and by DAPP and others well-wishers.
The project takes a unique approach in imparting knowledge to the learners in the sense that children themselves take a centre-stage in the learning process. Through a participatory method, children use their brain, hands, imaginations, and literacy all their body parts are coordinated to help the children to grasp and apply what they are taught.
Even though children from the communities come for basic education at the school, others who are ardent enough find themselves combining that with skills training which is meant for former street youth. The children also take part in running the “Town” and in production.
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