House of Mercy Children’s Home, Lagos, Nigeria (HOM) champions every child’s right to a safe, permanent and nurturing home. Since the establishment of our family-based residential home for boys in March 2011 and our home for girls in January 2013, 54 homeless street children, 21 girls and 33 boys between the ages of 2 and 17 years have passed through our children’s home.
While some of the 54 children who have passed through our children’s home since March 2011 have been reconciled with their families, those who have no home or parents to care for them; and those who cannot be safely reunited with their families remain in our care.
Although we only provide full-time care and accommodation for school-age children whose parents are dead or have abandoned them permanently, we also regularly cater for the needs of impoverished babies and toddlers who live with their parents in destitute camps in Lagos State and Oyo State through our Child Beggar Programme.
At HOM, we have very strict guidelines on the children we take in. The vision for HOM is to work with street children in order to reunite them with their families. We believe that the best solution is for the child to return home as family settings are the best places for children to grow up.
We often face resentment and resistance from the street children we seek to assist. We understand, however, that these feelings are not personal to us, but are reflective of the children’s past experiences with other adults who had taken advantage of them, manipulated or abused them. As a result, the children have grown to mistrust people completely. We recognise that building trust takes time and that the assistance we can offer street children may not always be accepted.
Although street life is extremely uncomfortable and dangerous, plodding the streets, enduring the scorching heat of the sun at daytime and the chills at night, it is still difficult to convince street children to give it up because of their attachment to the sense of freedom.
The rescue and rehabilitation of street children is an inherently complicated process. The challenge is to find new ways of preventing the next generation of street children whilst addressing the issues facing current street children in such a way that they do not become the street adults, “area boys” and perpetrators of abuse of tomorrow.
We are full of hope but of realism as well. The process of rehabilitation is a long and difficult road but every step in the right direction is a victory.
Videos of our Child Beggar Programme are also available on YouTube.
Please note: In line with our Child Protection Policies and Procedures, photography, video and audio recording on any device are strictly prohibited at all times during visits to our children’s home. This policy will be strictly enforced and management reserves the right to deny any electronic device at their discretion. Thank you for your understanding.