Programs for street children have been a Foundation priority since 1992.
A new boost was given in 2002 when the Air France Foundation organized an exhibition of photographs and an international conference on the theme of street children, in partnership with UNESCO.
The "children in distress" colloquium provided an opportunity to understand and analyse the problems facing street children. The participating professionals stressed the need for exchanges of practices and training for those actually working in the field.
In 2003, the Foundation's Board of Directors approved support for a new initiative: an exchange between educators in the Bayti association (Morocco) and Krousar Thmey, in Cambodia. The Bayti social workers went to Cambodia to meet their counterparts, after which the Cambodian educators went to Morocco. This first experiment enabled educators on both sides to compare practices and collaborate to develop a series of working tools, including a manual that can be adapted to different street situations.
In 2004, the Air France Foundation continued its work to the benefit of street children by financing a new exchange program between Ashalaya, in India, and the Virlanie Foundation in the Philippines.
Both associations have worked for years with street children: after many hours of talking and listening, the social workers try to encourage the children, who are often very young - some are barely 5 years of age - gradually to come into the association's shelters. If they cannot be taken in by a family, all steps are taken to see that they achieve some stability and that their rehabilitation is begun. This involves treatment for drug addiction, building up self-confidence and trust in adults, and a long process of socialization. Later, the educators will suggest that children return to school or take up vocational training. In recent years, associations have been particularly attentive to the needs of children as they leave a shelter, helping them to be come independent and integrated in the socio-professional world.
In March / April 2005, the Virlanie educators visited Ashalayam and in May, the Indian social workers learned about the programs of their counterparts in the Philippines.