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African Activist to Speak at the University of Virginia on Nov. 9

October 31, 2005 -- Wambui Jackie Chege, who founded a nonprofit organization to take care of street children in Kenya, will give a talk, free and open to the public, at the University of Virginia on Nov. 9 from 4p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library Auditorium.

What happens to homeless children in Kenya, an estimated 60,000 of them in Nairobi alone? They rarely live past their mid-twenties. They survive by begging, stealing, pick pocketing, scavenging through dumpsters and prostituting themselves. They sleep in alleys, on sidewalks, in dump sites and in sewer tunnels.

Chege founded Watoto Village - "watoto" meansing children in Swahili  - to give them, and mothers as well, a basic foundation, with homes, education, health care, love and a sense of community. In the largest Watoto Village initiative, the Mosaic Homes Network, she helps establish homes of no more than eight children, led by an "aunt" and "uncle."

Born and raised in Nairobi, Chege began visiting street children when she was 12 years old, drawn by an overwhelming desire to understand their situation and help them. She learned Street Sheng, a language native to the streets, to communicate with them one-on-one and earn their trust. Watoto Village also has a street program and a slums program to reach disadvantaged children and families.

"We are not an organization, but rather a group of coordinated families," she says.

Her talk, "The Watoto Village: Nairobi Street Children," is sponsored by the U.Va. Women's Center and Studies in Women and Gender program and part of the center's series on Local and Global Challenges for Women. Women's Center director Sharon Davie is including Chege in a book-in-progress about feminists and activism.

Contact: Anne Bromley, (434) 924-6861

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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