News/ArticlesNewsEmpowering Street-Connected Children: Lessons from Paul Semeh’s Inspiring Lecture at Darmstadt University, Germany.

Empowering Street-Connected Children: Lessons from Paul Semeh’s Inspiring Lecture at Darmstadt University, Germany.

Paul Semeh, the visionary founder of the Street Children Empowerment Foundation (SCEF), delivered a powerful lecture at a session of the BA Course at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences. The lecture, titled “Social Work Plus Migration and Globalisation,” shed light on the critical role of social work and community development in empowering street-connected children. It showcased best practices and lessons learned from SCEF’s remarkable projects and programs, emphasizing the organization’s vision and goals. Let’s delve into the three essential parts of the lecture that left the audience inspired and motivated to make a difference.

Part 1: The Role of Social Work and Community Development in Empowering Street-Connected Children
Paul Semeh began by presenting a stark reality: an estimated 100 million children worldwide live on the streets, with 90,000 in Accra, Ghana alone. He highlighted the multitude of risks and challenges faced by these children, including poverty, abuse, exploitation, violence, and lack of education and healthcare. Paul emphasized that street-connected children are a diverse group with unique backgrounds, experiences, and aspirations. They possess rights, dignity, agency, and potential that society must acknowledge.
Social work and community development emerged as powerful tools to address these challenges. Paul explained that social work, with its focus on social change, problem-solving, and empowerment, aligns perfectly with the needs of street-connected children. Community development, on the other hand, allows communities to come together, take collective action, and find solutions to common problems. By adopting a holistic, participatory, and strengths-based approach, social work and community development can empower street-connected children to become agents of change in their own lives and communities.
UN General Comment No. 21 provides guidance on developing comprehensive strategies for children in street situations, aligning with SCEF’s approach: holistic, participatory and strengths-based.

Part 2: Best Practices and Lessons Learned from SCEF’s Projects and Programs
Paul proudly shared the impact SCEF has made over the past twelve years. SCEF’s comprehensive approach encompasses various projects and programs, implemented through four dedicated centers in Accra, Ghana. The Learning Hub provides educational support and child rights programs, reaching approximately 43,200 children. The Center for Grassroots Enterprise focuses on employability, entrepreneurship, and financial sustainability, empowering street-connected families. The Fawohodie Centre empowers women and girls, providing sexual and reproductive health services, while the Smile Boarding House offers comprehensive support and education to street-connected children.
Cross-cutting themes and principles underpin SCEF’s work. Child Rights Programming ensures the holistic development of children in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. A Human Rights-Based Approach respects the dignity of all individuals and empowers the vulnerable. Sustainable development and cooperation involve community members and partners to create lasting change. Additionally, gender-sensitive leadership programming addresses the specific needs of street-connected girls and women, aiming for their autonomy and independence. SCEF finally uses the power of sport for development in all its projects and program designs.
Through SCEF’s projects, numerous positive changes have been observed in the lives of street-connected children, including improved health and hygiene, increased self-esteem, and confidence, enhanced social skills, reduced substance abuse and violence, improved school attendance and performance, increased income, and savings, and heightened civic participation and leadership.

Part 3: The Vision and Goals of SCEF and How You Can Get Involved
Paul passionately shared SCEF’s vision using its strategic plan (Safeguard, Advocate, Partner and Empower (SAPE) Agenda 2030, which again unifies SCEF’s resources and energies into using holistic, participatory, and strengths-based approaches to address the situation in Greater Accra, Ghana.
Paul encouraged the audience that, emphasizing that now that they have been equipped with knowledge and inspiration, it is time to channel their energies into concrete actions. He gave them some practical steps to support street-connected children and make a lasting impact:
• Volunteer/internship: He urged the audience to reach out to local organizations working with street-connected children and offer their time and skills. Whether it’s tutoring, mentoring, or organizing recreational activities, their presence and support can make a world of difference in these children’s lives.
• Donate: Financial contributions enable organizations like SCEF to sustain our vital work. Consider donating, no matter how small, to support programs that provide education, healthcare, shelter, and rehabilitation for street-connected children. Your generosity can pave the way for brighter futures.
Raise Awareness: Use your voice and platforms to raise awareness about the challenges faced by street-connected children. Share their stories, engage in discussions, and highlight the importance of community support and intervention. By amplifying their voices, we can encourage others to join the cause and foster a society that values every child’s well-being.
• Advocate for Policy Change: Engage with policymakers and advocate for policies and legislation that protect the rights and interests of street-connected children. Urge for increased investment in social programs, rehabilitation centers, and educational opportunities tailored to their unique needs. By advocating for change at a systemic level, we can create an environment where these children have a better chance at a brighter future.
• Support Sustainable Livelihood Initiatives: Help empower street-connected youth by supporting initiatives that provide vocational training and entrepreneurship opportunities. By equipping them with skills and resources, we enable them to break free from the cycle of poverty and create sustainable livelihoods for themselves.
• Foster Inclusive Communities: Promote inclusivity and empathy within your community by organizing events, workshops, and awareness campaigns. Encourage dialogue and understanding to combat stigmatization and discrimination against street-connected children. Together, we can build communities that embrace diversity and provide support to those who need it most.
Remember, even the smallest actions can have a ripple effect and transform lives. Each child we reach out to, each donation we make, and each conversation we initiate brings us closer to a society where street-connected children are no longer marginalized but embraced with compassion and opportunities.

Conclusion: Inspiring Change and Taking Action
Paul Semeh’s lecture at Darmstadt University illuminated the path towards empowering street-connected children, reminding us of the tremendous impact social work and community development can have on their lives. It is a call to action, urging us to become agents of change and advocates for the rights and well-being of these vulnerable children.
The stories of resilience, hope, and transformation shared by SCEF demonstrated the power of collective efforts and the tangible results that can be achieved. By supporting organizations like SCEF, we can contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty, exploitation, and marginalization that many street-connected children face daily.

Now is the time for each one of us to act. Whether through volunteering our time, donating resources, or raising awareness about the plight of street-connected children, we can make a difference. Together, we can create a world where every child, regardless of their circumstances, can thrive and realize their potential.
Let us be inspired by the passion and dedication of Paul Semeh and SCEF. Let us commit ourselves to championing the rights of street-connected children and ensuring their voices are heard. Together, we can build a future where no child is left behind.

Join the movement today and be a catalyst for change. Together, we can create a brighter and more inclusive world for street-connected children.