YOUTH EMPOWERMENT SKILLS (YES!)

A Right Based HIVand AIDS Prevention and Livelihood Initiative for Street Children

Street children do not have any skills or means of regular income. They live and sleep on streets; do sex work, begging or theft to fulfill their food and clothing needs.

This is a major reason as to why they agree to do sex or any other illegal activity, even for small amounts. Also, they are in a weak position to negotiate with the customers on condom use or the rate. This adds to their vulnerabilities of sexual abuse and HIV and AIDS. In the face of this unprecedented challenge, it is imperative that serious attention be paid to the economic livelihood needs. In Pakistan, adolescents living on streets are also most-at-risk. This is not necessarily because they are living on the street, which makes them more vulnerable, but because most abuse solvents, which in turn leads to sex and exploitation.

Under the Canada Fund 2010-11, AMAL Human Development Network was supported to engage with street children of Pir Vadhai (Rawalpindi) through Youth Empowerment Skills (YES!) project.

The target group of the project was male adolescents aged between 10-18 years. The focus of this project was on gender and rights based sensitization, attitudinal and behavioral change of parents, community members, teachers, transporters, religious leaders of the area through a research based community centered approach.

It also mainstreamed out of school children into private schools (run by local NGOs). YES! built linkages with local government officials, law enforcement agencies, local CBOs and education departments with an overall aim of providing a collective voice for achievable and sustainable impact by integrating street/working children into mainstream development efforts. The project included peer education, life skills building, networking and collaboration to prevent physical and sexual abuse faced by street children.

YES! have two major components:

  • Gender and rights based capacity building of MARAs on life skills, leadership and assertive skills, safer sex methods (condom negotiation) and body protection to protect themselves from HIV & AIDS and other STIs.

  • Demand-driven skills development (including tailoring, electrician, welding etc. ).

RESULTS

Since 2010, YES! has produced 60 skilled and trained peer leaders. Each leader has further sensitized a minimum of 50 peers during the first two years of YES!. To address sustainability, YES! builds linkages with local government, religious leaders, service providers and NGOs/CBOs for mainstreaming street children in national development.