At Christmas Laura, who is twenty decided that she wanted to do something to commemorate the death of her cousin twenty years ago. She bought herself and her father, Sam, tickets to race in the Bristol 10K this Sunday 5th May. Her aim is to raise money for the care of street children, which Romilly’s charity supports. Sam says that it was quite hard to begin with, being dragged outside to train in the wet and cold, but that he is now in peak physical condition. They keen to go.
At the very least Friends of Street Children (FSC) provide homeless, very vulnerable children with a respite from the abusive, filthy life of the street. Beyond this,
the aim is to reintegrate them with whatever remains of their families, and while these are being traced, get them back to school. School is one of the best ways to keep the children off the street, as well as equip them for life. Primary school fees are £12 and secondary school fees are £60 p.a per pupil at the time of writing. You can donate here.
In the picture above children pose in the classroom with teacher and administrator Meya Mbulo. Meya has dedicated her life to street children. No one who has seen her in action with the children on the streets of Kitwe can doubt her compassion, dedication and courage. Through thick and thin, and there have been some very thin times, she has soldiered on.
” I walk more than 6 kms to school and back. It is great excercise but sometimes I get too tired”, says Kunda Benson. When he was very young, five years old, both Kunda’s parents died and he ended up homeless, living on the streets from 1999 to 2002. He was taken into care by Friends of Street Children in Kitwe (FSC). Kunda had the imagination to see that it was worth going back to school, which, with FSC’s help, he did. He had the character and determination to pass his exams year after year, while also helping at the FSC shelter. He succeeded in passing the exams to take a place on a teacher training course. Now he will be taking his final exams in April, which will enable him to start his teaching practice. Kunda has always wanted to give something back and still helps at the FSC shelter.
Kunda in the lab.
Kunda’s choice may seem like the obvious one, but not to all street children. For many, the idea of submitting to the discipline of the classroom in order to achieve long term goals is too difficult. Kunda has shown real imagination, tremendous purpose and determination, but there are other street children like Kunda, who follow his example. Their school fees need to be paid. Currently these are about £88 p.a per child in secondary school, depending on the exchange rate. If you would like to donate to support street children returning to school, please go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1003642&stop_mobi=yes
Thanks to the donors and supporters of Romilly, the college fees of this exceptional young man have been paid for the last three years. Thank you all. Kunda writes, ‘I am so thankful for everything that you are doing for me and I am deeply humbled’.
After his teaching practice he will return to college for six more months. If you would like to contribute to his fees for this, please donate at
It was round about now, early evening as I write, twenty years ago that Romilly died. She was 14 years old. Romilly was very clever, as sharp as a tack, very funny but not remotely academic. She found school work dull. The bit she liked about school was being naughty with her friends. She was great fun, and had a wonderful sense of humour. She loved children though, and would have had a natural sympathy with the homeless children surviving in appalling conditions in Kitwe, Zambia.
The generosity of friends, family and strangers, touched by her death and the plight of these children, has achieved a great deal. Through the support that you have given to the Naivasha Children’s Shelter in Kenya, which you helped to create, and Friends of Street Children in Zambia, which owes its continued existence to you, lives have been transformed. Relations have been traced, children given a chance, school fees paid, salaries for teachers and carers paid, classrooms, shelters built, children rescued from the terrible life of the street. Lives have been saved. It really is something. If Romilly were alive to thank you she would, but since she is not I do.
‘Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart’.
Help Romilly help homeless, vulnerable children: please donate at
Benson’s parents died when he was five. His older sisters were left to care for him, but they didn’t….
They mistreated him, badly enough for him to take his chances on the street when he was seven years old. He was homeless in Mufulira for three months and then came to Kitwe, where he was also homeless. For a while he stayed with Friends of Street Children, leaving them for an orphanage run by the Catholic Church, from which he ran away. FSC street workers picked him up and lodged him at the FSC Kawama centre.
From the FSC Kawama centre he went daily to primary school, passed the national examinations with flying colours and was accepted by his secondary school, which he completed. This is a considerable achievement for someone who started life as a street child. Benson has always wanted to be a lawyer, so that he could defend street children, but until now he has not had the sponsorship to go to university. Since leaving school he has worked at the FSC Kawama centre, helping out with street children. He understands them and speaks their language. Throughout his life he has shown, resilience, intelligence, determination and courage. For his fellow street children he is a remarkable example.
Thanks to the generosity of Romilly’s supporters, her charity has been able to transfer £300 for Benson’s first term at teacher training college.
If you would like to donate in order to help fund the next term of Benson’s teacher training course you can do so here.
In the warmth of the African night three outreach workers of Friends of Street Children (FoSC) were walking through Kitwe market. During the day this is a colourful part of town. At night it is sinister. Here and there naked bulbs hanging from the stalls throw out dingy pools of yellow light. Shadowy figures can been seen sleeping on the market stalls and in the dark under the board walks homeless children sleep near open drains. Drunken men lurch out of the shadows. Here the three out reach workers found a 14 year old boy. He had been badly beaten and raped. He was in great pain and near to death. It was just after 10.00 p.m. on Easter Sunday
David with one of his rescuers, Meya from FoSC Thanks to Barry Traynor the photograph
They took him to the Hill View Hospital, where FoSC have an account, and where the chief clinician admires FoSC’s work. David was treated there for four days. His life had been saved.
Good Work by FoSC
Barry Traynor, a social worker from Northern Ireland, who has just returned from a visit to Kitwe and who over a number of years has spent 3 years working with FoSC praises their work, ‘Honestly, when I’m out there I am constantly amazed by the number of confident young people who say to me that their life was saved by FoSC’.
Not all children are as lucky as David though. Christopher Mulenga of FoSC says, ‘The life of a street child is brutal and short. Apart from the ones who we are able to reintegrate with whatever remains of the their families, the ones who live longest are those who end up in prison, and most of them do not come out of there alive’.
This is Jo Jo. He’s sniffing jet fuel. Jet fuel it doesn’t speed him up or help him fly. It slows him down and destroys his brain. Jo Jo is 14. This photo was taken by Christopher Mulenga when Jo Jo was living on the streets of Kitwe. He is now in the care of FOSC in Kitwe. He left home when he was 11 because his parents abused and beat him. He doesn’t want to go back. At the moment he is being taught and domesticated at the Kawama site of FOSC, in order to get him back to school. Thanks to the generosity of its donors Romilly is currently able to pay for half the salaries of FOSC.
Romilly would like to help FOSC become more self sufficient and is examining ways in which to do this. If you would like to see how these develop, as well as follow our fund raising adventures, click the +follow button.
I like this photograph, which Christopher Mulenga has just sent me from Kitwe, in the Copperbelt of Zambia.They could be school boys anywhere. It’s one of those moments we all remember. You have been assembled in class not for lessons, there are no books, but to listen to some guest speaker or to hear some kind of announcement. It’s that moment when we waited for whatever we were to hear to begin. The speaker has not arrived or is fiddling with the projector. Some chat, some snooze, some joke, some daydream. But what I like about this picture is that all these boys are clean. Their skin, their hair, their clothes are clean. Yet not long ago they would have been living on the street. Their skin would have covered in dust, parasites, and sores. In Kitwe they would have slept out near open drains. These boys look happy. They are well fed. They are cared for.
Good job, all you generous Romilly supporters out there.
These children are at the Friends of the Street Children site Kawama, Kitwe, which Romilly helps to support. They are being prepared to re enter mainstream education, while Christopher Mulenga’s colleagues try to locate what remains of their families.
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This is the house where his mother Mrs Chilufya looks after Philemon, his two sisters and their children. She is a widow. Readers of this blog will remember that her husband, Philemon’s father, a security guard, was murdered in July 2012 while on duty at the Friends of Street Children site where Romilly’s donors had paid for the construction of two dormitories. Since her husband’s death life has not been easy for Mrs Chilufya and her family. Christopher Mulenga of Friends of the Street children tells me, that they live in ‘abject poverty’. Now she is unable to find £170 to pay for Philemon’s school fees and uniform. Philemon has done well at school and passed his exams to move up into Year 10, but the Zambian government does not provide free schooling after Year 7. Thanks to his gallant mother Philemon is not a street child, and keeping a child at school is one of the best ways of making sure that he (0r she) does not become one.
The trustees of Romilly’s charity will be sending the money for Philemon’s school fees and uniform, as well as £360 to repair the minibus generously paid for by Romilly’s donors.
If you would like to help Romilly to give street children a chance click on the button below to donate.
Thanks to the repair of the well and the replacement of the pump, the boys at the Kawama shelter for street children run by FOSC are able to grow their own vegetables again. Thank you, all you generous donors, who made this possible. Thank you, too, to Lucy Johnson and her family who visited the site and who sent the pictures below.
“Thank you for sending us to such a wonderful place. Christopher is clearly inspired and inspiring, and can make anything happen. He is much admired among teachers in Kitwe, and our friend Francis Chilufya, who is head of Riverain primary, came with us to see what Christopher has done. Riverain needs a bore hole (they owe the water company a fortune and regularly have their supply disconnected – all their money goes on water not books) and Christopher explained to Francis exactly how he had managed to knock the engineering company down to the best price, and ensured they put in the right electrical kit, pump and piping. He also used some of your donation money to get the tower painted. The bore hole has made a phenomenal difference – you can see how productive the garden is, and all the boys are so proud of it, and so happy to show us what they have been doing. Look at the tomatoes! The whole project was very moving.”