On site visits in the slums it is not unusual for people to ask me for things: I need someone to sponsor me, I want to go to America, I want to go back to school, I need milk for my baby, we need money to build a new wing for our school/orphanage. It has become a reflex to say “I am sorry, that is not what I do.” Last Thursday I got a new request, “Can you help me get an ID.” This was asked by a member of one of the Street Associations I’ve been working with. He said that he had all the paper work he needed, but when he went to the office to get his ID they asked for 1000 ksh because he is over 18 years old. ID’s are supposed to be free, but he did not know that so he left without one.
Proper identification and registration for groups is a very big deal. Without proper ID you cannot get a job, and without registering it is illegal for groups to meet. As I have previously discussed, young people living in the streets and in the slums are especially vulnerable to police harassment. Unregistered groups are in danger of being arrested simply for meeting. Unfortunately the registration process can be a difficult one.
In addition to protecting the group from police harassment, registration also allows groups to open a joint bank account, and it is the first step towards become a Community Based Organization (CBO). Once CBO status has been achieved, the group can have access to certain government funds as well as funds from other organizations. For these reasons, Undugu strongly encourages all Street Associations to register with the Ministry of Children, Gender and Social Services.
To register the group needs four things:
1. a list of all members,
2. a written constitution,
3. national ID cards (or the card numbers) for the majority of members,
4. 1000-1500 ksh for the registration fee ($13-$20).
The registration must be renewed every year.
Undugu helps by offering advice and support throughout the procedure. Each Street Association is required to write a constitution, regardless of how close they are to registering. The biggest difficulty is the national ID card. You can imagine that most young people living in the streets do not have any form of identification. To get an ID card all you need is a birth certificate; however, many of these young people are orphans or have not seen their parents in years and therefore do not have their birth certificates. There are other documents that can be used to get a national ID card. For example, baptism certificates, documents indicating they attended school, or photocopies of their parents ID cards. If they can get even one of these documents, Undugu will write a cover letter on their behalf.
If an individual has absolutely no documentation to prove that they are indeed Kenyan, the situation becomes even more complicated. They can go for a medical check-up and their dental records will be used to estimate age. And they will require an affidavit from someone who can speak on their behalf to prove they are indeed Kenyan.
Understandably it is unusual for enough of a Street Association’s members to have identification. Once they do the next problem is coming up with the money to register. Undugu encourages each group to save enough money to register. However, collectively saving 1000 or 1500 shillings is not easy when you do not have a bank account. Some members of the group are always more dedicated that others, and some will not contribute at all.
Those few groups that do manage to register are very proud of their achievement. They are also more confident in their activities, and can live with a bit less fear. One of Undugu’s Project Officers estimated that only 15-20 of the 140 Street Associations are registered.
Posted By Alixa Sharkey
Posted Aug 26th, 2009