Keoogo is the only organisation in Ouagadougou, (the capital of Burkina Faso) that works with street girls as well as boys, and with children who are vulnerable to sexual abuse, violence and exploitation.
Given the International Children’s Trust’s experience in supporting programmes that significantly change the lives of children who have been involved in and harmed by their often violent experiences – we are delighted to reveal our new collaborative venture studying just what street girls are experiencing in Burkina Faso’s second city Bobo – Dilousi, with Keoogo.
Through this study, we will reveal what the immediate needs of street boys and girls are as well as the more complex background factors that have led them to surviving on the streets. This research will enable the International Children’s Trust and Keoogo to develop effective ways of getting girls and boys back to school (many have never attended in their lives) and give them access to vital services including for girls sexual, maternal and reproductive health so essential for them and those already in young motherhood. With our help, Keoogo will also be able to expand their capacity in delivering psycho-social support, which is so important in achieving family reintegration wherever possible.
The International Children’s Trust will help Keoogo fill a real gap in the support available for all street children in the region. Most services address physical needs, but do not tackle the more complex, emotional and psychological support needs of children who have experienced violence or other abuses on the streets and, for very young children who have nothing and nobody to rely on, this is an important step forward in Burkina Faso.
We are grateful to Comic Relief for providing funds for this initial research phase.
Tim, a girl found by Keoogo staff in the suburbs of Ouagadougou under the influence of drugs and clearly not accepted by her peers, who saw her as a troublemaker, is one example of Keoogo’s good social work with these exceptionally fragile and vulnerable children. 6 months after her initial contact with staff, Tim felt able to tell them about what had happened to her. At just 4 years, because she was born out of wedlock, she was given to her grandmother to be raised. At 11 years she had her first sexual encounter and tried to leave her home. The men in her grandmother’s house tied her up and severely beat her to stop her leaving. She nevertheless continued to escape and make sexual contact with older men until at 13 she was given to another relative to deal with her challenging behaviour. This younger grandmother sent Tim to work in the market and there she was initiated into prostitution by a girlfriend. Her relatives dealt with this by tying her up and beating her, but after 2 months she left to join her market friends and lived off prostitution for a year. Her village threatened to kill Tim if she tried to return and her father’s family disowned her. However Keoogo staff helped Tim rehabilitate within a residential care home and traced her mother, and helped mother and daughter re-establish contact. With care and professional counselling she has turned her life around and is now training to be a seamstress and is looking forward to practicing her skills.