More girls are living on the street in Lomé

There are more and more girls living on the streets in Lomé, which was not the case a few years ago (90% of street children are boys in 2015). This poses a new problem. How can we adapt care to girls and identify and act on the factors that increasingly encourage girls to take refuge in the streets?

To understand the phenomenon, we relate here the story of Elinam, a 14-year-old girl who was rescued thanks to a joint action of the association Agora des Populations Défavorisées (AGOPODE) and ANGE.

At the age of 10-11, Elinam's mother entrusted her to her grandmother so that she could continue her education in school. She moved in with her grandmother in Davié (30 kilometers north of Lomé).  However, the family environment was not suitable. The mistreatment at home combined with Elinam's poor connections meant that she began to go out a lot during the day and in the evenings with friends. Finally, she ran away from Davié and came to Lomé on her own. There she found a small job during the day, paid at 1000fr per day and slept under the stars near the congress center in the town center. She lived in the street in deplorable conditions for more than 2 years.

Shortly before the holiday season in December 2020, she accidentally fell into a gutter and seriously injured her ankle. After a week, the wound became very infected because she had not received medical care.

During a patrol, the educators of the partner association AGOPODE discovered her in agony and unable to walk. She was automatically given care and taken to the hospital for appropriate treatment. It was imperative that she be placed in a safe place to rest, take care of her wound and heal. For regular follow-up and future reintegration into her family, Elinam was referred to the reception center in Lomé. While waiting for her wound to heal, Elinam is receiving psychosocial support with the help of educators.

Elinam says that she does not want to go back to the street (even though the temptation to find her friends was strong). For her life project, she wants to do an apprenticeship in sewing.