We are now well into our time at AFE and used to running activities for the students. Today we had the oldest grades in the school, along with a translator called David. We are sorely missing Duncan (but not his jokes), and hope that he got back home safely. We don’t conform to gender stereotypes, but when a grade of one boy and five girls had the choice either to play sports or make bracelets, well, you can imagine what happened.

In the afternoon we visited the Micah Project which is situated a two minute walk from our house. It’s a transitional home for kids straight off the street before they go to a permanent home. The project specializes in quality over quantity, and every single one of the boys that goes through the project leaves with a high quality education and able to speak fluent English, with quite a few going onto working abroad. Maybe we could offer them some work experience in England? I don’t really know how to describe the house except “wow”. It’s hardly a surprise about the results the project gets with how well it seems to be run and maintained. Without sounding clichéd it is less of a project and more of a family. I hope to learn more about the project in the future.

The team has settled into interacting with little to no language, but the long days and constant schedule mean that we are quite tired now. After running activites we went up to the rubbish dump to see what it was like and to hand out food and drink. Pastor Jeony told us the amazing story of AFE and how it was started on the “Trash Mountain”. We also heard the stories of individuals, such as Jimmy, who was in 9th grade, but because they can’t afford his scholarship, or to offer him a job in the meantime, he has had to go back and work on the dump, due to demands from his family. A scholarship at college level is approximately $5,000 per year, and to offer him a job in the meantime would cost $60 a week.

The AFE project is such a success and an inspiration, but it still needs more work, time and money to realize its vision. One stark change that I have noticed since last year, is the lack of children on the dump. I didn’t see a single child there. I did, however, see a couple of young people who I knew from AFE from previous years. It’s hard seeing them back where they came from, and sadly the sole reason they return seems to be financial. Either their family needs them to earn (which seems illogical as they earn about $1 per day on the dump), or the school aren’t able to offer them a scholarship. The young people really want to go to school, as they are educated to high school standard, and often feel embarrassed to have to go back to the dump.

This is another reason why fundraising and supporting Street Kids Direct is so important. Not just to enable the charity to have an effect on the bigger picture for street children, but also to help these individuals in such need. AFE are working to change a generation, and it seems that they already have, with the babies now growing up not on the dump, but in nursery. They will never experience life like their parents and there is no price we can put on that. 

Steve Poulson