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A new report reveals plight of children in urban poverty; ministry finds surprising venue

By February 29, 2012

Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — The United Nations Children's Fund released its flagship report, "The
State of the World's Children 2012: Children in an Urban World," yesterday, in
Mexico City.

According to the data, one billion
children live in urban areas. By 2050,
70% of all people will live in urban areas. Traditionally, the numbers showed families and children
moved to cities in search of better opportunities. However, more recently, urban growth comes from children being born
inside the city.

In Africa, six in ten city dwellers lives in slum
conditions and faces unemployment, poverty, crime and poor services. That has led to a huge phenomenon of "street
kids." 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the official government
estimate is that there are roughly 40,000 street children trying to eke out
survival in the streets–about half of them in Kinshasa, the capital city. 

Whether they are evicted by parents or leave in the heat of
unbearable accusations, the result is the same: They end up as lonely street
children, wandering about without comfort, guidance, or even the most basic
kind of care. Sometimes, children are
evicted because there are too many
mouths to feed. 

Every Child Ministries has been trying to help get the kids
fed, off the streets, and educated. ECM's
Lorella Rouster said their team then discovered something startling: "Many children who are living on the streets are
actually children of Christians, or at least, of church families."

ECM launched a program called "Restore a Family" a
few months ago. The street kids they
were helping in Congo had been organizing skits to let others know what it's
really like to live on the street. Whenever
they have done these skits in local churches, people's hearts have been
moved. 

Rouster says, "At first, we had hoped the skits would arouse the
awareness of church members. But we were really surprised that from the beginning,
these church members–when they saw the skits–began revealing that they
themselves had kids on the streets."

When parents realized the danger
their children faced, they began
trying to find their kids again. Of
course, there's always damage. "Some of them were distrustful at first when their
parents approached them. Most, in the end, agreed to return home when the
parents continued to show interest. We've seen a steady stream of children
being reunited with their families."

Families were restored. Forgiveness was sought. New beginnings were made. But, Rouster notes,
the original problem threatened some of the
reunions: too many
mouths to feed. Every Child Ministries is
expanding "Restore a Family" to address poverty issues. "We are much encouraged about this new program, feeling that
we'll be able to get vocational help for the others as well, so that they can
stay together."

More than just happy endings, Rouster says, this healing had
to happen for the testimony of the church in the community. ECM makes sure kids hear the Gospel and are discipled
in their new faith. "Pray especially, that
our workers will find the most effective ways to help those families with
different kinds of training that would be very effective in their own culture,
that God would use these families to be an example to others."

ECM has two desperate needs regarding
street children. First, sponsors are needed at $32 per month to enable other street kids to
receive vocational training. Second, they need
help for those who finish the training to get started in a vocation. Our
Featured Links section has details.

 

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