how to spot a street kid

Recently, the Kenyan government has decided to rid the streets of street kids. If police spot a street kid, they bring them in to an overpopulated, understaffed orphanage.
Many of the ones we've seen and heard about have at least 30 kids to one caregiver. The street kids feel they had a better life on the streets and run away from the orphanage. They learn to avoid the cops or they get picked up again and run away again.

spotting someone in a Mombasa street is kind of like playing Where's Waldo Live

Because they are hiding from the police, they are not easy to find or identify in the streets. You will never see a big group of them. Also, many kids who have parents and homes wear old or dirty clothes, so you can't assume based on the way they look. There are also kids who beg in the streets with their parents, whom we wouldn't classify as street kids.

not a street kid

There's a key difference.

Handicapped people, adults, and children with parents and homes beg with an open palm. They are asking for money. Often, if you offer them food they will refuse it, but some will take food.

Orphaned or abandoned street kids beg by making the "eat" sign, putting their hands to their mouths. They are asking for food. They will take anything.

I always carry snacks in the car for our boys. (Babies and toddlers like to eat every 45 minutes or something.) Now, we also carry snacks to give to street kids, if we happen to see any. We buy boxes of crackers that come in serving-sized packages or, if we run out, we buy a bag of apples on the street. One apple or one packet of crackers costs about 25 cents (USD).

That guy will bring apples right to your car window. You don't even have to stop; he'll run alongside if he has to!

Maisha Kamili is not yet up and running to minister to these kids' full lives, but at least we can do a little something.