Children from the slums and back streets of Nairobi swapped their everyday wear for the latest high fashion to join Miss Universe and Miss Kenya on the catwalk at a fundraising evening to highlight the plight of street children. The 12 July event was arranged as part of the Exodus Initiative of the German Foundation for World Population (DSW).
The foundation, a private organisation committed to the able development of the world’s population was supported by a number of partners, including UN-HABITAT. The Exodus Initiative, started in 2002, is aimed at highlighting awareness of the plight of street children and seeks to improve their living conditions. It places special emphasis on reproductive health education, and uses sports and art to reach out to the children.
Friday night’s event was graced with performances from celebrated Kenyan musicians such as Wahu, Nameless, Jomenes Boyz na Band and Mighty King Kong, who was once a street child himself. Fifteen children aged 13 to 19, who strode out onto the catwalk came from special centres, family homes in the slums, and some were selected straight from the streets. They showed off local designer wear, and each was asked to give a brief speech in English and Kiswahili.
In their speeches, the children addressed crucial issues such as HIV/AIDS, drugs and teenage pregnancy, and gave moving accounts of grim lives on Nairobi's streets. The winners of the competition will now be used as ambassadors to reach out to the kids of Nairobi's slums and streets.