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Childhood in East Africa

Sonal Shah | East Africa (Kenya Uganda Tanzania)

During school holidays, children may be unsupervised during the day - these children in Kiambu, near the Kenyan capital, are having fun riding downhill on bikes.

Children in East Africa, whether they live in urban areas or in rural villages, are expected to entertain themselves. Quite often the mothers (if still alive) are in the larger towns earning a salary and the grandmother, who looks after them, will also be busy with harvesting produce to sell at the local market. So, much time is spent with other children exploring the neighbourhood. Even after school, children stick together for play, as parents may still be at work or because there is no space for play at home. There are no electronic gadgets and probably no electricity either. There are no rules, there is no supervision and there is no such thing as safety. But playing together outside at least protects some of them from the dangers of abuse (physical, sexual and emotional violence will touch around 75% of children before the age of 18 according to UNICEF Kenya), or distracts them from lack of food (as during the drought of 2017). The children in these photos are the lucky ones. They have survived so far.

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