The Life Choices program, started by the Anglican Church
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Kenya is now considered one of the worldwide hubs for child sex tourism. Tourists that exploit children are at the center of a ring of corruption that also involves many from the local community. 30% of children ages 12-18 are engaged in sex work (15,000-20,000 children), largely caused by the abject poverty rampant in Kenya. Because about 10 Million people living there do not have enough to eat, rich male tourists are able to lure these children into the commercial sex trade. Their cost in physical health is substantial. For example, Joshua Nkanatha, a police official, indicated in a recent Kenyan radio program that many of the boys lured into the trade by rich male tourists are now buying adult pampers because they can no longer hold their own stool.
The BBC reports that a child prostitute can earn more in a couple of days than a teacher does in a month. A second major cause of this prevalence of commercial sex is the acquiescence within parts of Africa into the radical sex revolution movement of Europe and the Americas.It’s important to note here that homosexuality is considered both a taboo in Kenya that offends the cultural norms of a majority of Kenyans and its penal code criminalizes such activities. Kenya has laws on the books criminalizing sodomy and prohibits all forms of sex trafficking with substantial prison sentences. However, very few are actually brought to justice.
And then there are the children…
This is where The Life Choices program, started by the Anglican Church in the diocese of Machakos, comes in. It is the Anglican Church’s vigorous response to poverty and destruction of the traditional culture.
Based at St. Paul’s Church, Athi River near Nairobi, the youth center offers holistic programs, including: spiritual and psychological counseling, healthcare, job training, food, clothing accommodation and whatever else the boys need to keep them from returning to commercial sex. It began around August 2015 when twelve boys registered with Life Choices; by the end of 2016, there were more than 36. And, about half of these beneficiaries are HIV positive. The program struck a vital chord and demand exceeds the available resources. The Life Choices program offers practical solutions for bringing these boys back to healthy, productive lives.
The Center is run by a team under the leadership of Bishop Joseph Mutungi of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Machakos Diocese. In contrast to so many others who duck or ignore what they do not want to face, Bishop Mutungi has taken courageous action to launch a program to rehabilitate victims of the sexual revolution. Day to day operations are run by Peter Mulinge, an “ex-gay” social worker, youth educator and counselor who himself survived sexual exploitation. Peter’s work also includes visiting churches to raise awareness of the issue of sexual exploitation of boys and young men. Rev. Dr. Martin Olando, Principal of the Hannington Institute of Theology and Development in Mombasa provides oversight to the Center on behalf of the Anglican Church.
The Life Choices program has been running on a shoestring, yet has still managed to provide food, accommodation and health care to the most broken of all. On average the center receives about 18 requests for food and accommodation from these boys every month. Generally this program works with very poor boys who if they are not provided with these necessities they would have no option other than selling themselves out to able men to raise some money for upkeep. One job program has been particularly successful: Last summer, four boys were trained and introduced to farming businesses. After six months, they are clean, not engaging in transactional sex, self-supporting and have developed various micro enterprise activities including M- Pesa (a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service) and a motorbike business.
Your donations will support more kids who are ready to turn their lives around. With an additional $1,500.00 per month ($18,000 per year), the Life Choices Center will be able to support other broken boys to embark on a cleaner way of earning a living.
On their wish list, is a sporting facility that would help attract more local teens to the Center. Sport activities are an important “hook” to bring kids together and promote feelings of community. Once the kids feel comfortable with the athletic events, more may come out and seek help.
The space for the sporting center is ready, yet an additional $3,000 is needed. Equipment cost is $700 and $2,300 covers maintenance for a year.
We thank Anglican Mainstream in the United Kingdom (www.anglicanmainstream.org) for bringing this situation to our attention and thank them for their support to date.