Street Children and Family Strengthening in Malawi
Community Based Child Carer Centres Receive Training
Community groups are a great way to support those who are caring for children in vulnerable situations. Both carers and children can come together with trained facilitators to share ideas and gain knowledge about how to strengthen their lot in society.
As part of the family strengthening programme, SOS Children's Village social centre co-workers are working alongside communities to strengthen the community bonds and knowledge about child care. This enables guardians who have taken on children in vulnerable situations to gain some understanding of the deeper meaning of child care, rather than pure 'survival skills'.
A workshop was recently held for the community child carer centres of Chimwemwe, Chipeta, Tongole, Chilungamo and 'House of Hope'.
The workshop centred around the role of the child carer centre and specifically the duties and responsibilities of the community members who form the managing committees of the centres, how to mobilise resources, even if the resources available are minimal, the principles of early childhood development and a basic introduction to human rights.
For most of the participants, these concepts were new or unfamiliar and so the SOS Children's Villages co-workers concentrated on introductory information without going into too much detail. Further follow-up workshops will be held to complement this initial session.
Chipeta community based child carer centre forged their way ahead by meeting with the group village headman, Chikungu, on the issue of land since they are currently borrowing a church building as a learning centre. With the knowledge gained they managed to win the favour of the group village headman and they were given a piece of land to build their own structures.
The committee also approached a local non-governmental organisation about the provision of basic nutrition for children who attend the centre and were pleased to hear that 'Feed the children' would provide mealie porridge for the children on a daily basis.
The children and carers who attend community based child carer centres are those from vulnerable situations. They may be child headed families, grandparent headed families or extended families who are taking care of orphaned or abandoned children. In the most case, the children will be either single or double orphans because their parents have died from HIV/AIDS.