Spotlight on ANPPCAN:
Child Dancers
In the mid-nineties, The University of Nairobi undertook a collaborative investigation with Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) on the “Prostitutes of Majengo” (Central Division of Nairobi Districe) who were supposedly immune to the HIV/AIDS virus despite the risks inherent in their trade. Despite the folklore, it was found that this area has very high mortality rates due to the community’s high HIV/AIDS prevalence.

July 2006. Cases of child exploitation continue to be rampant: a case was brought to one of the Child Help Desks where the complainant Washuka, a 14 year old, had entertained guests during a funeral vigil, but those who invited her failed to make payment as agreed. It emerged that she was a member of a local child-dancers troupe. The troupe was routinely hired to entertain audiences in exchange of payment both in cash and in kind. Washuka said that the trade was in demand because they charged a cheaper rate than other professional dancers and would be invited to entertain guests in local weddings, funerals or social gatherings including local bars.

Fortunately, the local chief had been trained through CIRCLE partner ANPPCAN and its Central Child Labor Committee initiative. Other members of the troupe were sought and found and offered counseling services. The team is also trying to access funds through the local Member of Parliament to support these children through skills training. As a result of this exposé, the local administration has outlawed Child Dancing in an effort to deter those who engage child entertainers at the expense of their education, morals and health.

The capacity of local leaders and community is continually being supported through this program and new members have mobilized both internal and external resources to address child labor cases though promotion of education. Though much more advocacy and support is required to target the young girls of Central Division, most of whose mothers engage in prostitution as their main economic activity, at every opportunity, the newly-sensitized leaders share and remind the community of the dangers of child labor and prostitution.