TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr. April 2010

Section VS 1 The multitude of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques: From Theory to Practice
Sektionsleiter | Section Chair:
Birgit Fritz (University of Vienna), Matthias Thonhauser (Art in Progress/Austria)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

English | Русский

Report: The Principles of the Work with Street Children

Mary Vernham | Tekenova Ainura Shamshievna [BIO] (Kyrgyz Republic)


Outreach work

Street children problem didn’t arise yesterday, but due to different circumstances it expanded in its own way. There is no single explanation to the fact that forced some children to work and / or live on the street. However, there are interdependent factors, which explain why more and more children choose this insecure and often dangerous way of living. Street children phenomenon is an indication of extreme social and economic ill-being. Street children, in general, come from the lowest stratum of society.

The reasons – why the children end up in the street, can be subdivided to macro-social and micro-social one

Macro-social are determined by the following:

Micro-social reasons are determined by:

In Central and East Europe and CIS, children, working and/or living on streets, are in terrible conditions. They suffer a lot, which does not differ too much from the suffering of children of the same age in Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, there are several special features. Cold in winter is a real danger for health and, at the same time, a test of their abilities. Children cannot do without warm clothes. They have to find ways to keep warm: central heating, house cellars, tandyrs (national stoves). Everyday street child activities are dictated by the necessity to survive.

Exposed to the unknown and dangerous, children may be involved into:

Governments of Central and East Europe and CIS learn to react rapidly to such a situation of street children. Coercive maintenance and punitive actions are being replaced by the respect of children’s rights and by providing choices of accessible services. People who work on these issues realize the necessity to respond to the needs of street children. In order to work with street children and their societies, different organizations were created, such as non-profit-making groups and non-governmental organizations (NGO), funds and associations. They make a part of growing voluntary sector, which started to develop in Central and East Europe and CIS.

In spite of the fact, that Kyrgyz Republic ratified United Nations Organization (UNO) Convention on a child’s rights, in reality the rights of street children are violated. For example:

The breach of street children rights induced an aspiration of many people from all over the world to help them, and to change the situation in children’s favour. We must take an advantage of the Convention on a child rights not just to determine the points where children’s rights are violated, but also to follow it in our actions. This principle underlies the activity of the Every Child international organization, which realizes several projects in the Kyrgyz Republic. Country program of our organization refers to children, the most vulnerable part of a society. Regarding geographical location, Every Child covers the poorest areas of Kyrgyzstan: Talas and Osh regions. Problem of street children most heavily stands in Osh oblast, where poverty, migration, long distance from the center, unavailability of social services, lack of specialists to work with exposed children, high density of population – aggravate the situation of street children.

In order to solve problems of street children in Osh oblast’, Every Child organization realizes two projecs, focused on needs and rights of street children.

Outreach work methods were approved and applied in the framework of the project on street children. Not only members of the project group were trained in those methods, but also social workers of social protection departments. Outreach – a method of social work, aimed at contact establishment, services approaching to the representatives of the target group, through consultations and information about most usual street children places.

People, who make an outreach work, are called outreach-workers or outreachers. Outreach work complements arrangements, reffered to preventive measures of some negative phenomenons. For example, outreach work may be taken for prevention of child neglect, drugs usage, HIV/ AIDS. In this case, we would talk about outreach work among children, living and working on streets. Outreach work is carried out in places of children’s bunching.

The main objective of the Outreach work is a creation of trust with neglected street children, and to become the adult friend in their life – the one, whom they may talk to. This moment is very impotant! Probably, you will be the only person to give them kindness, to become the one they could imitate and the one they may trust. In addition, Outreach is the first stage for expansion of a possible choice for homeless street children and to connect them with services, so that they have started to improve their lives.

Outreach work does not consistat all in “gathering of children” and a compulsory drive in isolators. Spot-checks and gathering are infringement of the rights of a child and have no purpose: if the child “has been returned home” in such way, they will simply run away back to the street. It is not only loss of time, money and energy, but also it is damage to the child, which as a consequence, further complicates a future creation of trust with children.

Work with children begins with a contact, which is carried out by forces of "street" social workers. Some key principles of Outreach work are:

Outreach work is based on 3 phases:

  1. Supervision: observe and listen to children and find answers to questions: where children are, what they do, with whom and how they communicate, etc.;
  2. Adjustment of communication: an informal dialogue, not menacing approach, aimed at creation of trust without set of questions;
  3. Development of relations with children and the beginning of maintenance of support.

Every Child organization, within the framework of the project on street children, in particular Outreach team of the project, developed the several “gold rules” for members of the team to adhere:

Practical advices Communication and behaviour Safety Support

- Do not be late
- Dress appropriately
- Do not show and do not bring expensive things (mobile phones, jewelry)

- Do not give money or things/gifts
- Keep your promises
- Do not give promises, which you cannot execute
- Do not lie to children (do not deceive)
- Do not argue / quarrel with colleagues, when you are with children
- Hold will
- "Resist" to behaviour of children, if they obviously tell lies
- Check the information given by children about your colleagues
- Do not give personal addresses and telephone numbers
 - Keep closed personal things and bags
- Do not irritate children
- Be careful/attentive, that children have not followed you home
- Support and respect each other
- Organize regular team meetings (for maintenance of control and stress removal)

Additional recommendations:

What to do: What not to do:

In the work with a street child, it is useful to take into account his/her connections with an environment. Each street child has his/her own, adjusted, invisible or appreciable network of personal contacts. The closer the contact of a child with its family is, the more these connections are strong. Other connections may also exist, with:

At the very basis of the work with children in the street there should be a complex approach to the problem, and the work of various experts - teachers, workers in the public health services, militia, and social workers – should be involved. The success of the work of experts in the sphere of children protection will depend on the choice and realization of certain methods, based on understanding and comprehension of the specific features of a child. That will also depend on the kind of relation which will be established, and on a sufficient professional knowledge which experts should possess.



VS 1 The multitude of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques: From Theory to Practice

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TRANS   Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  17 Nr.

For quotation purposes:
Mary Vernham | Tekenova Ainura Shamshievna: Report: The Principles of the Work with Street Children - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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