Street Children in Kenya: Voices of Children in Search of a Childhood

Street Children in Kenya: Voices of Children in Search of a Childhood

Street Children in Kenya: Voices of Children in Search of a Childhood

Street Children in Kenya: Voices of Children in Search of a Childhood

Excerpt

This book results from a cross-national and interdisciplinary research effort. Although Collette Suda (C. S.), a rural sociologist, and Enos Njeru (E. N.), and Philip Kilbride (P. K.), both anthropologists, were all academically trained in the United States, we `have benefited from an "insider"--"outsider" dialogue in writing this book. C. S. and E. N., as Kenyans, kept our work closely grounded in local language, cultural interpretations, and applied recommendations. P. K. focused on ethnography as an "outsider," as non-Kenyans must do, and also sought to coordinate our findings with comparative, cultural, and theoretical concerns beyond the Kenyan scene. We operated, however, on some occasions as insiders or outsiders given P. K.'s research on children and family in East Africa since 1967 and E. N.'s and C. S.'s international travel, education, and living experiences abroad. More details about our collaboration in research and writing together are provided in the text.

Street children are often portrayed by the public and sometimes in publications as a separate, socially distinct category of person. We have tried to emphasize here social complexities that problemtize this simplistic view. Following a holistic perspective, we have emphasized throughout the book how street children in Kenya, in fact, live like other Kenyans, embedded, for example, in similar institutions, informal work routines, cultural beliefs, and family relations. Such involvements are not dissimilar in many respects from others who make up the working poor in Nairobi. Still, street children do stand apart as a distinct social category both in their own minds and that of the public as well. We will consider reasons for this and which social characteristics seem widely shared among street children. Throughout, however, while recognizing commonalities, we attempt to emphasize the rich variation among children that we discovered in our research.

In our book we seek to systematically provide information about street girls. An awareness of difference and variation as our work progressed compelled us to emphasize gender differences at every turn. We also wanted to highlight . . .

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