Rita Serukenya Nkemba
This profile was prepared when Rita Serukenya Nkemba was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Concerned with the plight of street children for more than a decade, Rita discovered that among the myriad of challenges they face, education was one of their greatest needs. She also learned that her initial interventions, modeled after other social and public sector institutions, were not enough to properly prepare them for formal education. In response, Rita has developed an interim education program to prepare each street child for a successful academic and social reintegration in to public schools. Rita’s program uses a rescue program to draw children from the streets and attracts them to Dwelling Places, a transitional home for former street children in Kampala. At Dwelling Places children participate in rehabilitation programs, including counseling support and the interim education initiative. The program then focuses on reconciliation; helping former street children reconnect with parents or relatives, and, when this is not possible, foster parents. The last phase of the program is resettlement. Former street children return to living with relatives, parents, or foster parents. Though resettled at home, children are still sponsored by Dwelling Places, and it continues to facilitate their access to education and health services. Rita is advocating the Ministry of Education to have her interim education curriculum formally recognized and introduced in all public schools. She has also started a Heralds Initiative Project, a campaign to encourage responsible adults to advocate for and take street children to public schools that offer her program.