The combination of decades-long conflict and widespread poverty has resulted in many children living on the street in Nepal.
Recent estimates show that there are around 5,000 streetchildren living in dire conditions.
These children often face mental, physical and sexual abuse in their daily search for basic needs such as food, shelter and security.
Voice of Children (VOC) campaigns to protect street and abused children, especially young boys, in an environment where legal protection is difficult to secure, and where abuse and exploitation often occur in designated shelters and safe spaces.
VOC empowers streetchildren and facilitates reintegration with their families through economic and psychosocial support.
Through VOC, children who live and work on the street are able to access schooling and vocational training in skills such as plumbing and mechanics.
Psychological and healthcare support including counselling provided by VOC is crucially important for children who have often lived difficult and traumatic lives.
Drop-in and social centres are key contact points at which streetchildren can access support and take part in activities such as arts, crafts, team sports and exercise classes.
VOC also involves key stakeholders such as child rights officers, government officials, teachers and journalists to raise awareness and minimise incidences of child sexual abuse in the country.
VOC recieved a Small Award from Stars Foundation in 2012. The organisation used its funding to construct a new building to provide housing facilities to ex-street children, with spacious play areas and land for organic farming and vegetation.
The new building accommodates 60 children, double the capacity of VOC's previous facility, allowing VOC to reintegrate and rehabilitate a greater number of children by providing appropriate facilities and quality services. The Award has also helped to ensure stability and sustainability as the organisation expands.
VOC now supports more than 1,400 families to prevent children from going back to the street.
VOC’s successful approach has achieved a 96% voluntary reintegration rate of the streetchildren in its care.
In addition to its streetchildren programme, VOC has worked with more than 41,000 children and around 5,000 stakeholders to raise awareness of, and in turn tackle the root causes of, child sexual abuse in Nepal.
Photos: Suraj Shakya