Homeless & street children
The continuing HIV/AIDS crisis in Zambia long-ago overwhelmed the traditional support system that operated through extended families. UNICEF estimates that over 11% of children have lost one or both parents. Coincident with this, over 45% of children live in extreme poverty, and 65% of children suffer from at least three deprivations or more (i.e., lacking access to nutrition, education, health, water, sanitation, adequate housing), and nearly 60% of girls aged 15-19 years are pregnant or have already given birth. In this context, the risk of homelessness has exploded, and the routes out of homelessness have become inaccessible.
Lubuto Libraries and library programs offer vital tools to end homelessness among young people and help reconnect them with their communities. Regular outreach sessions are held in areas with large populations of homeless youth, which not only introduce them to library programs including storytime, mentoring, drama and music, but also connect them with clinics, child protection agencies, schools and other services. At the libraries, homeless youth are given safe spaces and access to life-changing programs and resources. These include literacy lessons, technology lessons and resources, programs in the arts, makerspaces and mentoring.