68. From street children to role models
“Now I know what to do with issues that affect me and my community. I want to help other young people realise what they can do to change things,” says Lombe Chilekwa, aged 17, chair of a young people’s council in Zambia.
There are tens of thousands of street children in Zambia. Life is hard on the street, and street children rarely have sufficient support networks. The Finnish civil society organisation Operation a Day’s Work Finland supports street children and children at risk of ending up on the street. It has established young people’s councils where children and young people at risk of social exclusion learn communication and performance skills and get information about their rights. Many of the council members have succeeded in changing their lives: former street children no longer roam the streets and are, instead, role models in their communities. The work has reached 1 000–2000 young people in 2015–2017. In Zambia, the project is led by Barefeet Theatre, a local civil society organisation that specialises in social theatre and acrobatics.
The Operation a Day’s Work Finland is also active in Finland, where it provides global education to encourage young people in Finland to take global joint responsibility. For 50 years the Operation a Day’s Work Finland has supported developing countries with funds collected by Finnish school children and students. The Operation a Day’s Work Finland receives support from Finland’s development cooperation funds.
Photo: Pamela Arslan/Taksvärkki Association – Operation a Day’s Work Finland, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta