Mauritius: Street children get a second chance

Mauritius: Street children get a second chance

Date: March 11, 2012
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According to a recent study carried out jointly by the Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association and SAFIRE, the only NGO working in this field, there are around 6,780 street children in Mauritius. The deprivation of education opportunities is one of the main impacts on children living on the street.

The organisations undertook the research to understand and provide statistical evidence of this social challengein order toformulate appropriate solutions to ensure that the children get a chance to enrol into school and become reintegrated into communities.

Four criteria were adopted to define street children:
– A child aged more than 15 years, neither not attending school nor working.
– A child not more than 16 years, whether attending school or not and is economically active.
– A child registered at school but who regularly absents from school.
– A child whose parents are absent.

The children work on the roads and most of them already have a house where to sleep. SAFIRE has developed a specialised participative approach enhancing the emotional and functional empowerment of the children and work within their own particular environment. According to the Director of SAFIRE, Ismahan Ferhat, these kids are on the road for many reasons mainly due to absence of parents, breakdown of family structure and economic difficulties.

The children are vulnerable to all kinds of dangerous situations including physical abuse, substance abuse and economic exploitation and the project aims to give them a second chance to improve their life in the short term and long term.

Key findings of the research include:

  • Absence of both parents is a key factor that is increasing the risks that a child becomes a ”street child” and 53.3 % of street children come from mono parental families.
  • Break down of family structure and difficult economic situations lead to violence, which in turn forces the children to the streets. 39.5% children declared having been victims of ill treatment and hardships.
  • 1500 are under fed and 160 victims of prostitution.
  • Report recommended among others the following:
  • Sensitize the policy makers on the problem of street children and on the dangers to which the latter are exposed.
  • Children should be informed on the dangers to which they might be exposed: HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, abortion, abuse of all kinds and a lack of education


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