Families, Not Orphans

It was amazing to be back in Uganda and it was so exciting to see the Government so committed to prioritizing families over orphanages.

Historically the solution to children at risk has been to place them into an orphanage. This has lead to a massive proliferation of childcare institutes. In 1996 there were 35 and now there are 500 the government know about and probably hundreds more.

So, what are alternatives to orphanages?

First of all, can organizations prevent family separation?

One organization I met who totally rocked were Abide Family Centre in Jinja. They work with vulnerable families and teach business and parenting skills to enable them to keep their children.

The next option is Emergency Transitional Care.

This is what we provide at Malaika Babies’ Home. We provide life-saving care and place children into a family within six months. The reason why the clock is ticking is because any longer than six month in care can cause irreversible damage. If you’re interested in reading more take a look at Families, Not Orphanages.

The reason we have a social work team is because social work is the difference between a child languishing in an orphanage and a growing up safe in a family.

Our social work team first of all tries to resettle children into their extended family. As 80% of children in orphanages have families, it makes sense that we successfully resettle over 60% back with their families. It just takes the will and want to give families the choice to bring up their own children.

If we are unable to trace any family we then find new adoptive families. The Ugandans Adopt campaign has been so successful that we have a waiting list of Ugandan families who have been approved by the Alternative Care Panel who are patiently waiting for babies to adopt. I never thought I’d say this but we need to find children for families.

If we cannot place children into adoptive families then we find long-term foster families. This is new for us and we are currently trying to find churches to work with us to recruit long-term foster families for children in desperate need of love and security.

If we cannot place them into new families or find long-term foster families then we find specialised long-term residential care. One organization here in Uganda is Ekisa Ministries. They are committed to finding children with special needs long-term families.

If you want to know more about Alternative Care in Uganda please join the Facebook Group.