Thousands of children live on the streets in Nigeria. The majority of street children are males; there are significant numbers of women. They generally have a low level of education and were from poor and large families most of which were polygamous. Parental neglect, discontent at home, marital instability in family of orientation, poverty and peer influence where reported to be the major causes of homelessness.
While many may see it as a choice, the life of homeless children is one of vulnerability. They sleep under bridges, at the beach, in motor parks and vehicles, in market places, and in uncompleted buildings. Their survival strategies include engaging in some income-yielding activities such as carrying load, being bus conductors, packing refuse, buying and selling, engaging in commercial sex and begging. Substance abuse and engaging in risky sexual behaviour are common. They faced the problem of insecurity, police harassment and all forms of exploitation and maltreatment. They were also predisposed to a number of hazards including sexual abuse, molestation, extreme weather conditions and health hazards.
A lack of access to health services, constant malnutrition drugs and alcohol mean that some may not make it to adulthood and for that do a lack of education and skills mean their marginal lifestyle will continue throughout their lifetime, denying the right to marry and form families.
The New Leaf Foundation compassion ministry will work to affirm the dignity and worth of homeless children regardless of religious orientation, based on Christian values, and will provide comprehensive services and activities that not only strive to minister to the spirit but also facilitate temporal needs for livelihoods, safety and education.