— Child’s i Foundation (@childsi)May 7, 2014
We posted a photo up of Matty on Twitter a few weeks ago. He is one our children who has recently been resettled with his family. But his story isn’t that simple.
Matty was rescued 5 months after he was “stolen” at just 1 day old.
We were alerted when his real mother bumped into the woman who took him and raised an alarm, both women were taken to a nearby Police Station and Matty was referred to us for temporary custody.
A DNA test was taken which confirmed the identity of Matty’s real mum. Our social worker Lenah then traced her to a local slum and the two were happily re-united.
After the re-unification with her son, Matty’s mum then unfortunately disappeared and both her phone numbers were unavailable.
The team at Malaika then decided to trace Matty’s father, using the phone numbers that his mum had given them. After walking for miles and showing village officials his photo, his dad was located.
On hearing about his son being alive, Matty’s dad made plans to travel to the city to see his son. He eventually travelled to Malaika Babies Home, despite a heavy downpour, where he had an emotional meeting with his son for the first time. With Matty’s mother gone, and with his father’s consent and support, a maternal uncle was identified as Matty’s primary care giver.
But before the bonding could commence, his Dad requested that Matty was granted a day visit with him.
Then after a number of visits and bonding sessions with his maternal uncle and family, Matty joined the family. He had been with us at Malaika for 12 months.
Tracing families is the difference between a child growing up in a family rather than an orphanage. We call it CSI Kampala - this is how we do it:
At our emergency care centre in Uganda, babies are often admitted to us by the police. They are dumped in pit latrines, on the roadsides and in rubbish bins in Kampala.
Our last two little baby girls were abandoned on a rubbish dump and a septic tank and weighted a pitiful 2kgs.
Our aim is to get them into loving families so their tragic beginning is never remembered. Our social work team trace family members. If we can’t find anyone then we have a waiting list of approved families who will provide them with love, a sense of belonging and be part of their family.
Great social work and a hugely supportive community = winning combination. #Makingfamiliesnotorphans #Resettlement
A small organisation with a big ambition and a huge responsibility to do the right thing by the parents we support, the children we help and the community of donors and supporters who enable us to exist and continue our work.
We were fortunate to present this week at the Third Sector Digital Edge conference in London. Child’s i Foundation are often cited as being a “digital” or “social” charity.
From the very beginning we’ve seen technology and the tools that it brings, the most efficient and economical way to tell our story and to share it with our community. Here is our presentation on how we do what we do.
As well as being my personal nurse, mentor, agony aunt and counsellor, she is the lynchpin of Child’s i Foundation and a one-woman fundraising powerhouse. [Hazel Buck - AKA my mum, my rock]
I’m 36 years old and still call my Mum (@hazelbuck) when I’m feeling ill.
Today she dropped everything, jumped on a train, did my ironing and stocked up my fridge whilst I was tucked up in bed feeling sorry for myself.
Mums never retire, they are a ‘Mum’ for life. My Mum is remarkable and I’m eternally grateful for all the support she gave me when I was setting up @childsi. As well as being my personal nurse, mentor, agony aunt and counsellor, she is the lynchpin of Child’s i Foundation and a one-woman fundraising powerhouse. She has devoted the last 5 years to this charity and her tireless fundraising hasn’t gone unnoticed.
She has organized countless events - from dress sales to quiz nights, sports events to cake sales. She mucks in wherever is needed – from helping out with admin or volunteering her finance skills.
She’s been my rock who I could not have done this without. I’m going to blow her trumpet on her behalf now and tell you that she’s also one of our biggest fundraisers and generates around £8,000 a year with her team of Rotherfield fundraisers.
When I was researching Child’s i, I went to a project in Kampala for children with disabilities. It was a hard lesson in the realities of institutional care. I will never forget a 10 year old little boy who had fallen over and hurt his head. He was sobbing but had absolutely nobody to comfort him. He didn’t have a ‘rock’ like my Mum is to me. He didn’t have someone to scoop him in their arms and kiss his bumped head better. He was just another child, another mouth to feed, another motherless child. A cuddle and kiss come as second nature to Mums and their healing power is immeasurable. I will never forget him and that moment of realization that there is no substitute for a Mum.
This week we collected up a frail little boy - we’ll call him “R”. R is two years old and he is one of the worst cases of child neglect case we have seen. He had been locked in a room and starved of affection and food. The police found him on the brink of death and immediately called us. He is now in hospital with one of our carers by his side and we pray that he pulls through. Today is the 10th day he’s been in hospital and after his medical needs are taken care of, our first priority will be to find him a loving family to take care of him.
I am very, very lucky to have someone as special as Hazel Buck in my life. I couldn’t do this project without her and I want to thank her for helping me make this possible.
Our project is all about finding mums as special as mine and we’ve proved this is possible. Our sole aim is to find each abandoned child who comes into our care devoted Mums and Dads who will protect and nurture them, so they don’t reach the age of 10 and realize there is nobody there to kiss their bumped head better, so the little ones who are failed by their mothers are found another mum who will cherish them and when they are older, drop everything to be by their side when they are feeling ill.
So, to all you Mums out there and all of you who are lucky enough to have a Mum as your rock, Happy Mother’s Day and thank you.
This is why #mumsrock
50,000 children in institutional care and yet 80% of them have living, locatable relatives
MAKING MEMORIES: Driving my Dad’s car. Aged 4.
My earliest memory as a child was when I drove my Dad’s car across my village recreation ground. I still remember the thrill of ‘driving’ his car - sat on my Dad’s lap, my tiny hands clutching the enormous steering wheel beneath his. Afterwards, we went to the corner shop to buy 10 pence of sweets and I proudly declared to Mr Pitts, the shopkeeper, ‘I have driven Daddy’s car’.
Looking back, I don’t know whether my Dad was more worried that he had let a 4 year-old drive a car or about the trouble he was going to get in with our village sports club for ruining the rec.
Thirty years later in Uganda, one of the eldest boys, Ismail, is obsessed with my car. Every time I see him he asks me, ‘Lucy, where is your car?’
I have just returned from a hectic two-week visit to Uganda. It went by like a whirlwind – a blur of non-stop meetings with the Government, District level officials, funders, staff and the Management Team. It was a very productive trip but with so much to fit in, I hardly spent any time with the kids. This is probably a good thing, as I make a point of not spending too much time with them since they already have secure attachments with their carers. And after being abandoned, the last thing they need is to be spoilt and loved (temporarily) by me and then experience that feeling of abandonment all over again.
But I wanted Ismail to have his first memory, something he would remember forever. Not that his mother abandoned him with his sister and brother, not that he has been in our care for three years because we are struggling to find him and his two siblings a family who will foster them all together. Not that he has spent the first 3 years of his precious life in an institution without a family of his own. I wanted to give him a memory like the one I have and still cherish.
So I took him out to my car and sat him on my lap. I turned on the engine and Ismail, eyes wide with anticipation and excitement, drove my car. We went up the drive then we reversed down the drive. We went up the drive again and… we went down the drive. Ismail ferociously turned the steering wheel back and forth but due to being a three year-old, did not manage to turn the wheels. After going for our drive, we sauntered back into the centre where he proudly announced to all staff and children ‘I drove Lucy’s car’. No one believed him until I corroborated his story. The next day, sitting at my desk in cold England, a photo pops up on our community site of Ismail proudly washing his car. I smiled and hoped that for Ismail, the memory of driving a car for the first time will stay with him and that the other, more painful memories, will pale into insignificance. Our number one priority is to find Ismail, along with his little brother and sister, a family to call their own.
It is harder finding a family who will take three children and the easiest option would be to separate them, but we are desperate to keep them together. Yet we can’t, and won’t, keep them forever. So we have created this video to encourage Ugandan families to foster children who are in desperate need of foster care. Although it is common for Ugandans to informally foster children in their family or local community, formal fostering is a new concept. But with a country full of generous, kind-spirited and family-orientated people – we feel confident that fostering will soon catch on. And that for Ismail and his siblings, they will find a loving family to make new memories with.
As an accountant, it is not surprising that sometimes I view things in terms of numbers. For example, it costs just over £10 a night to support a child in our baby’s home.
Our finance volunteer Adam Dennis puts the work we do in Uganda into numbers:
"After three months at Childs i Foundation, I am convinced how important the work done here is."
"I didn’t choose to come here, I came by accident. My wife was offered a job in Kampala, and I needed something to do. So Lucy [Buck] asked if I’d like to help in the Finance Department.
I was impressed by what I found. There are many safeguards in place that ensure the funds raised in the UK are spent effectively in Uganda.
I hope I have improved reporting to the board, and helped improve the knowledge in the team. We’ve put in place a finance manual, and now have a three year business plan. So you can be sure that every pound raised is put to best use.
As an accountant, it is not surprising that sometimes I view things in terms of numbers. For example, it costs just over £10 a night to support a child in our babies home. Uganda is landlocked country, so anything imported is expensive. This year formula milk became very expensive with the global shortages. Items like nappies are probably cheaper back home.
But some things cost very little indeed.
Child’s i Foundation believes in keeping children with families. The best way to do this is to keep them there, by preventing the child from being abandoned in the first place. This can be as simple as giving the mother enough food to last the week.
Trust me, that can be cheap. If you buy from the right places you can buy a few days worth of fruit and vegetables for only a couple of pounds.
Once the baby is here, we try to return them to their family. An advert including a photo is placed in the newspaper (that costs £10 for the week). A social worker visits the area where the baby was abandoned, trying to trace the family (typically that would be £5 on public transport).
Often the baby is resettled with extended family. Sometimes the families didn’t even know the child existed. It is lovely to see the happiness on the faces of families when the baby returns.
Of course this is not always possible to locate the family. In this case, the baby is then hopefully adopted or fostered into a Ugandan family.
One of my favourite pictures is seeing Simon with his new family. There were 13 smiling faces in that photo. That’s priceless.
There are other benefits too. Child’s i Foundation employs around 50 people in a country with massive unemployment. It trains all staff, in all departments, leaving them with valuable skills. It spends money locally, benefiting the local economy. It shares knowledge with other organisations, and encourages them to consider family care.
This truly is a charity that makes a difference. To children, families, staff and to the the local community. And, through TV appearances and Facebook campaigns, to the whole of Uganda.”