Street Kids Direct´s Founder and Director, Duncan Dyason MBE, is proud to celebrate 25 years of working with street children in Guatemala City, Central America.
Duncan first moved out to Guatemala in September 1992 after watching the harrowing BBC Everyman Documentary "They Shoot Children Don´t They?" in 1991 and feeling that he should leave behind his comfortable life in leafy Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire, and move to the warn-torn country and help the children.
The BBC Everyman programme is a hard-hitting documentary that follows the work of Casa Alianza´s street team as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers of children living on the streets of the country´s capital. Not only were children suffering from neglect, discrimination and abuse but were also being hunted down by death squads who would torture and kill them like common vermin.
One of the most shocking statistics that was published at the time by Casa Alianza was that there were 5,000 street children living in Guatemala City. Duncan knew that moving to Guatemala was not only risky, since the country was still in the midst of a civil war, but also a massive challenge in helping reduce the numbers of children living on the streets. His expectations were high but little did he realise the daily dangers he would face and also the way the street children themselves made his life particularly difficult, with one young person putting a machete to his throat and telling him that if he returned to visit the children in the streets he would be killed.
Duncan´s early work in Guatemala with the charity he founded, The Toybox Charity, was featured in his book Miracle Children and then in 2001 Duncan established the charity Street Kids Direct in order to guarantee that 100% of all donations received be given to the projects the charity supports in Latin America.
Since the early 1990s Duncan, together with many volunteers, have worked tirelessly on the streets and helped many hundreds of children to either return to their homes or have offered them a loving home with a local children´s home. Sadly many children died in the early days of Duncan´s work due to abuse, disease, drug overdose or violence. A special cemetary was built outside of Guatemala City to bury children who had died or been killed on the streets.
Today in 2017 the situation is very different. We are excited to share the news that in a recent survey Duncan and the Mi Arca street team could not find one child living alone on the streets of Guatemala City. This video graphically demonstrates how the numbers of children living on the streets of Guatemala City has changed over the last 25 years. It is great news and one that should be shared and does encourage us to believe that change is possible.
There is much work to be done, however, as the charity continues to fund the Mi Arca outreach work in Guatemala City, the Go Guatemala Project in Guatemala and the AFE and Manuelito projects in Honduras. We feel that as the demographic changes and fewer children now live on the streets in Latin America, our determination to help prevent more vulnerable children taking to the streets will increase with the hope that one day the charity will not need to be in existence.
Thank you everyone for your support over the years and for all who have worked alongside Duncan in both the UK in the various fundraising events and those in Guatemala who have worked so hard to saves the lives of hundreds of vulnerable children.