Poverty, diseases, rape and incest; domestic violence and rapid urbanization all contribute to a huge number of children being abandoned, neglected and abused in Uganda. There is no welfare safety net and the support traditionally provided by the extended family has been eroded by HIV/AIDS, poverty and war.
Historically, at-risk children are placed in long term institutional care which rarely even meet their most basic needs and inhibit their mental and physical development. A rule of thumb is that for every three months that a young child resides in an institution, they lose one month of development.
Child's i Foundation wants to give families another choice – to keep their children. They want children grow up loved and cherished with a sense of belonging in a family instead of growing up as an orphan.
Many babies are abandoned in the hospitals, car parks and roadsides of Kampala and admitted into our care malnourished, traumatised and weak. Malaika Babies Home provides temporary protective care for up to 25 children aged between 0-2 years old. Every child receives their own care plan and carer to give them the attention they need to recover and thrive whilst we find them a permanent home within six months to avoid long-term psychological damage.
Many mothers abandon their babies because they feel they have no choice. So far we’ve given over 100 mothers the choice to keep their babies and prevented them from making a decision they might regret for life. Our duty social worker gives guidance, support and advice, as sometimes all they need is an emergency grant or an introduction to a partner organisation to help them set up an income generation project.
If they need time to get back on their feet we temporarily look after their child and pay transport for them to come and visit their baby as much as possible until they are back on their feet. When children are placed back in their families we monitor them for up to a year to ensure they are safe. Our incredible Family Support Team regularly visit families and teach them good parenting, health and hygiene.
We believe that children should grow up in a family. When children come to us, our social work team aims to safely return them to their own family or find a new Ugandan family ideally within three to six months. Around 60% of children placed in institutions in Uganda have living relatives. We make it our job to try and trace the children’s families and resettle them safely back into their families. In fact around 54% of children admitted to Malaika are reintegrated back into their families.
Promoting Family Care
There are an estimated 40,000 children in care in Uganda. Typically, abandoned children are placed in long term residential care as it is seen as the ‘only option’. Our pilot projects wanted to demonstrate it was possible to resettle children into families in a safe and timely manner.
One of the challenges we faced was that the concept of adoption outside the extended family is uncommon which resulted in many children living in long-term institutional care. In summer 2011 we launched with the Government a Ugandan’s Adopt media campaign to find new families for our children. As a result of the campaign we are so far assessing 100 Ugandan families and we have a waiting list of families who want to adopt children.
Please support the REPLACE Campaign. Our objective is to get all children who are in orphanages placed into loving families and to prevent those who are at risk, from going into orphanages.