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Street Children, Child Prostitution, Child Labour

Their home is a piece of cardboard or an old blanket, and life for them  (means) poverty and violence, drugs and crime. There are an estimated 30 million street children worldwide. To feed themselves they guard car-parks or wash cars, sell cigarettes or sweets, beg or steal.

They live in close proximity to those boys and girls who prostitute themselves or are forced to do so by pimps. Often they cannot protect themselves from HIV and if AIDS breaks out there is no one to look after them.

The street is also home to many working children. In many cases fatherless, they try to earn or improve the income of their families – by selling small items, shining shoes or guarding cars. Other children toil on plantations, in private homes or the garment industry – often under most exploitative conditions destroying their childhood and their prospects for life.

Both childhood and prospects for life  are what terre des hommes seeks to preserve for girls and boys. Therefore it supports projects devising preventive programmes: children at risk and their families are shown alternatives to street life selling things or their bodies. Our projects focus on providing educational opportunities and seeking alternative livelihoods.

Projects also aim to support street children, child labourers and child prostitutes in tackling practical issues. Many children are enabled to earn their livelihood by themselves, to have a better chance for a dignified future.

In Germany terre des hommes urges companies to observe social and ecological standards in their international subsidiaries as well. This is achieved through the power of argument and pressure from consumers who are encouraged to buy goods produced under fair working conditions and through fair trade. For example, together with the Flower Campaign we introduced a label for flowers: »Flowers from humanly and environmentally sound production«.

Every year since 1998 terre des hommes has carried out a day of action, »Street child for a day«, which is supposed to call attention to the difficult situation of street children worldwide. On November 20th children and young people all across Germany slip into the role of a street child for a few hours. They carry out activities »typical« of children their age in Africa, Asia and Latin America, children who eke out a meagre existence, for instance by shining shoes or as buskers. In this way, German pupils experience how matters stand as far as the rights of children in other countries are concerned. At the same time, they support projects for street children with the donations they collect.

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