We have closed our former children’s respite accommodation! Instead, we have a much better arrangement – several caring foster homes for all our orphans and vulnerable children.
Despite some initial apprehension by the children, they all now absolutely love being in their new families and say they much prefer it to staying in the old 'children’s home'. We are very grateful to these families – especially as they come from a culture where it is not the norm to look after children who aren’t in their wider family, clan or tribe.
All the foster parents are well known to us, either staff members, local church members or parents of children who are already with us. They have all been trained in understanding how to look after a foster child, and our social workers conduct regular visits and counselling with both the families and the children. In addition we give a very small payment to these families.
How has this come about? Occasionally, family problems occur and a child can no longer stay with the family either permanently or temporarily. That might through the death of the last surviving relative, a highly contagious/infectious disease endangering the life of the child or an abusive situation where the child is, again, in danger. These problems are why we set up a ‘children’s home’ in the first place, so these vulnerable kids could be kept safe.
However, we became increasingly uncomfortable with that arrangement as it is not ideal for a child to be living in an ‘institution’. That’s actually in agreement with the government of Uganda which lays out its policy in a document called The Alternative Care Framework that, whenever a biological or its wider family cannot look after the child, fostering is the next best route.
This is still in the early stages but we are very hopeful that this new programme will continue to improve the lives – not just of our kids – but of the foster families too. All this is arranged by staff in our Family Support Unit – if you'd like to sponsor one of them to continue doing this great work, please click here for details!