WATOTO was registered in Kenya on 31 July 2013 as a non-profit organization under the Non-governmental coordination Act, 1990 and the Non-governmental Organizations and Regulations of 1992. WATOTO grew out of a children’s rescue project in Kisumu dating back to 2005 that was created by the International Leadership Institute (‘ILI”), in partnership with the Children’s Legal Action Network (“CLAN”) and the University of Minnesota’s Upper Midwest International Human Rights Fellowship Program. The main objective of WATOTO is to promote and protect the human rights and welfare of youths, orphans and at-risk children through education, counselling and various intervention programs aimed at meeting the children’s basic needs and reintegrating them into society.
WATOTO started its mission through a street outreach program that involved meeting the children in the streets and in their bases. This proved limiting so WATOTO established a drop -in-centre where the children could spend a few hours during the day. For a number of years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced its closure, WATOTO’s day drop-in centre was a housing structure built by a church within the church compound in the Kibuye area of Kisumu. The day drop-in-centre proved limiting because the children had to go back to the streets and to their bases after spending some hours at the centre during the day. WATOTO, therefore, plans to establish a residential program for the children so that they do not have to sleep in bases anymore and, instead, sleep in an environment that can enable them to make the transition from the streets to society.
For over five (5) years, WATOTO has worked to create a pipeline for at-risk children from the streets to society using the 3Rs operating method:
Rescue: removing children from the helpless and hopeless life of the streets.
Rehabilitation: helping children to deal with their social, political, emotional, economic, cultural and family environments
Reintegration: Helping the children to reconcile and reunite with their families and relatives or to find residential school or vocational training programs that will also house them.
In the past five (5) years, over five hundred (500) children have participated in WATOTO’s intervention programs.
More information is available on WATOTO’s website.