Preventing family separation in Mpigi
One of our core values at Child’s i Foundation is collaboration. We work in partnership and harness the collective wisdom that emerges when individuals work together. We strive to carry out our work in partnership with the Government of Uganda.
Hear from Emmanuel, our Project Manager, as he talks about working in partnership with the Government to support families during the 2nd wave of the pandemic in the Mpigi district.
1. How are you and your team supporting families in Mpigi during the 2nd wave of the pandemic?
Our social workers are maintaining regular phone contact with each family on our caseload, checking in to see how they are doing, educating them on how to keep safe, addressing their concerns, monitoring progress, following up on plans, and providing them with psychosocial support.
The team are encouraging parents to stay at home and help their children with their studies. We have had positive feedback from some families who are actively encouraging their children to wear masks when they go out to play. My team’s focus is on developing supportive relationships, helping the families which are experiencing difficulties to resolve their problems, promoting independence and wellbeing.
We also work with Community Development Networks and Local Councillors to monitor the families that are further out and therefore more difficult to visit. We continue to support them with food packages, hygiene, and health supplies, as well as supporting them to build a sustainable income where we can.
2. How are you collaborating with Government bodies? 
We are collaborating with the Local Government by calling them for updates, sharing reports with them on WhatsApp, and reporting all child protection cases. We also share our plans for all activities that we intend to implement in the district and communities.
In return, we are updated on what’s going on within the district including information on the district COVID19 statistics and emerging issues and effects of the lockdown on vulnerable families.
Our team is in regular contact with the Community Development Officers in the various sub-counties, including Nkozi and Muduuma sub-counties, who keep us updated. We are also continuously speaking to the Probation and Social Welfare Officer who keeps us updated with information from the district task force meetings and which information we use to adapting our work. The Probation and Social Welfare Officer guides us on what is feasible. Maintaining contact with the Government enables us to streamline our responses in line with theirs.
3. How are you collaborating with community volunteers?
Our network of Community Volunteers has been crucial during this period. Through them, we can continue with our work and support families to which we would otherwise not have access due to the ongoing 42-day lockdown.
We are collaborating with them by calling them often to encourage them to continue
monitoring families and report all family-related cases. We also call them and appreciate the work they do, support them in handling cases that are minor, and report serious
concerns to the Local Councillors.
We encourage them to continue holding their regular meetings but in smaller groups while following the standard operating procedures. If we are not able to hold physical meetings we resort to phone case conferencing. In addition, we sensitise them on home visiting protocols in line with government guidance as it is important to visit some of the families.
4. What impact have the community volunteers made in helping support families?
Community volunteers have shown commitment in the work they do by continuing to
visit, monitor and support families. Some have supported families with their food and
couples counselling.
They have made a positive impact in supporting families by reporting all the concerns
and cases in the community of the most vulnerable families and children. Since the CVs
are within the vicinity of these families, they have access and can intervene where there
are child protection concerns within the families.
They have trained and supported families to improve their parenting skills during the
lockdown. We have heard from some families and caregivers who have expressed their
appreciation of the support from the community volunteers who check on them and encourage them to take care of their children. They say that they continue to visit them and encourage them to watch their children and not let them roam around the village and to watch out for child abusers.
5. What is the biggest challenge that your social workers are facing? 
The biggest challenge we are facing to convince the community volunteers that they are well trained and are in a position to handle minor cases and that not all cases require financial support. Communication with some community volunteers and families who do not have phones makes getting information and documentation difficult in some areas.
Unstable internet in our areas of operation is another challenge. It makes communication especially video conferencing difficult.
6. What are the biggest challenges that families are facing?
The three biggest challenges which families are facing are lack of food, medical support
and mental health issues due to the COVID19 pandemic and ongoing lockdown. With
no government welfare programme or additional support outside of NGOs and local
communities, it is estimated that not only will those previously experiencing poverty be
in a worsened situation.
As a result, the Community Development Officers are requesting food and medical support for the struggling families of Mpigi. The rising COVID-19 infections rates in Mpigi are another big source of concern. Families fear for their children, they fear that they may not the educational support in case they need, because of the lockdown. They fear that their children are going to become unruly because some of the children returned home without any school work and are not occupied.
Some parents are worried about how they will support their families as most of them are
not working and cannot buy their goods. Due to the uncertainty of the length of the
lockdown, most parents are afraid of what will become of their children’s future when schools are closed.
7. How are you supporting these families to get through these challenges?
We are continuing to enrol and support families under our Active Family Support
scheme through which we provide vulnerable families with food and medical support,
depending on their needs.
We work with our community volunteers to carry out assessments for those cases that are referred to us to avoid duplication of support to families.
We support families with counselling and supporting the children to engage in fun
activities, keep them busy and occupied. We also support families with learning
materials for their children.
Child’s i Foundation works closely with national and local governments to repurpose orphanages, strengthen families, and work on the underlying causes of separation. We also work to set up alternative systems of quality care including support to kinship carers and foster care.