“Projects should strive to be self-sufficient and not depend on charity”. This principal of sustainability through income generation is well and good, but must be carefully balanced with maintaining CRK’s core values. Children cannot be expected to work above and beyond their responsibility to participate in project life. Income we can generate is limited to cost cutting at project level and small distinct business ventures.
Child labour is widespread in the Kenyan agriculture sector, there is a fine line that separate the normal duties and exploitation. Children should learn the tasks as they would within the familial context of Kenya. Like all children they have to learn life skills that enable them to grow into healthy, responsible adults. Of course all children help with the chores around the center and also help with growing maize and vegetables in our bio-diverse vegetable plots. These activities can be fun and are the type of life skill that children might learn in a typical Kenyan family. Life skills build confidence in the children and give them a sense of belonging and responsibility to their peers and the wider community.
Income generation is currently limited to the hiring out of function marquees and plastic chairs. CRK owns 4 marquees and 350 plastic chairs which were donated for this purpose and are for hire. The business started well but has slowed as more and more competitors have entered the local market. Future plans
Children and staff have been asked to come up with suggestions for future income generating activities. Their ideas have included poultry rearing, sale of products from the vocational training units and cattle herding, opening saloons ,tailoring shop and mechanic centre in town to offer apprenticeship training as well as creating income for CRK. All are possible sources of income though they also have implications for education, the environment and staffing levels.
Income generation is important though difficult and can ultimately prove costly. Other players rely on underpaid casual and child labour, and often have little regard for environmental impact. These clearly contravene the development and social norms that CRK aspires to.
Structuring Groups, Formalising Ventures
The Association Model seeks to empower youths living and working on the streets or in the slums of Kitale by facilitating the formation of support groups (self help groups), access to vocational training and apprenticeships. This model was initially developed by the Undugu Society of Kenya in Nairobi and has had positive results with many of the Nairobi street youth. CRK are implementing the pilot in Kitale.
This process involves several stages: Develop links with groups of youth and introduce the programme. This will often involving sports and other informal gatherings. Hold formal meetings and workshops aimed at facilitating the formation groups and identifying leaders. Offer the elected leaders training and introduce them to other successful groups in Nairobi. Register the groups as legal entities. Identify members ready to take on training or access formal education and provide this on a rotational basis. Offer skills training in ‘Street Business’ and open group bank accounts.
The Nairobi model has had to be adjusted to take into account the local situation in Kitale and the cultural diversity the town offers. Introducing what works and adapting the rest. This is a learning process for all involved and, though five groups have already been identified and leaders elected, it will take some time until the groups are truly cohesive entities, disciplined enough to enter the world of small business, and responsible enough to operate bank accounts.
It has become clear that there is no fixed time frame for groups to progress through this process. One group; the ‘Line Moja Booster’, is relatively advanced, while others are lagging behind. Life style choices and individual needs effect progress while external pressures often dictate development.