Thursday, May 15, 2008

SOS FAMILIES SUPPORT FAMILIES IN THE COMMUNITY

SOS mothers in SOS Children's Village Gulu have gone an extra mile in embracing the new SOS Integrated Approach by supporting the FSP (Family Strengthening Programme) families in the community. Thanks are also due to the FSP social workers, who have initiated this good practice and linked SOS families to the FSP families in the community.

Mother Christine spearheaded this campaign when she mobilised children in her family and went to a working visit at Rebeka’s home. It was real excitement when the children in Christine’s house learnt that they were going to give a hand to Rebeka’s family. They exhibited a lot of eagerness and determination to help their counterparts in the community.



Rebeka is an HIV/AIDS positive mother of four children on the FSP programme, who at one time was at the verge of dying. She eventually recovered when SOS intervened and put her family on the programme. When Christine’s family visited her, they spent the whole day, together with Rebeka’s children, involved in various activities. They fetched water, washed clothes, cleared the compound, burnt the rubbish and smeared the wattle hut with mud to give it a new facelift. Rebeka could not hide her excitement and praises to the SOS children for their good spirit.

This is just the beginning and in future we intend to bring SOS families closer to the FSP families in the community, to share their knowledge and experiences in areas of child growth and development, child rights and education. A few FSP beneficiaries living nearer to the village are participating in the holiday programme as well.

Rebeka's name has been changed.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Every child can reform, never give up

Once upon a time, there was an 8-year old delinquent child in Gulu, who habitually committed crime after crime. Everybody hated him, adults, fellow children and teachers because of his abnormal behaviour.

This boy was a habitual truant, who instead of being at school was on many occasions found in town, staring at goods in front of the shops. I cannot count the number of times he left the village and we had to make an announcement over the radio in order to recover him. He could do it like twice in a week.

At home (the temporary SOS Children's Village Gulu) the boy could not settle. He was extremely destructive and a dangerous planner. One day, he picked up a bullet from somewhere and was spotted just as he was about to put it on a cooking stove. When the mother asked him about it, he said he wanted it to hit the cook but he did not give any reason why. On another day, he was again caught with two sticks of burning firewood, trying to put them under a vehicle. On another occasion, he took a frog from the nearby bush, roasted it and invited his fellow children to eat it. He used to fight, steal and speak obscene words. The stories are many and it takes time to narrate them all.

Do not blame this child for what he used to do. He was innocent and a victim of circumstances. He was left parentless upon the death of his mother, who worked as a barmaid in one of the bars in Gulu selling local brew. She used to be with different men everyday to make ends meet. When she died, the boy started roaming in Gulu town and slept on the streets for a period of one month until a 'good samaritan' saw him and took him to the probation office. He finally ended up with SOS Children's Villages.

On realising that this child could bring us more and more trouble, we decided to take him to a psychiatrist in Kampala, where he stayed a week under observation. The psychiatrist made a psychological assessment report in which he advised us to take him to a special school. We did not delay and we took his advice.

Surprisingly, after one term of studying in this school, the boy has shown some change. In the second term, he became a friend to all the teachers. He could speak English well and scored over 80% in all the subjects. He now participates in every game and activity at school. He no longer steals, runs away or speaks obscene words. As we talk now he is one of the best children, a child that we admire and feel proud of because of the way he has transformed in such a short time. Dear parents, care givers, never give up with any child because of their bad behaviour. Children can easily reform if the right solutions are found.