Changing the narrative
In Uganda, the media continues to shape the agenda and change public perceptions in the country. However, in matters of children rights and protection, it often portrays orphanages as a good solution without highlighting the harm they cause.
With a view to change this narrative and encourage family based care, we invited top Ugandan journalists to discuss the importance of children growing up in families rather than orphanages.
We also invited Harriet, our foster carer and Joel, a care leaver to share their experiences of the alternative care system. This to help the journalists understand what alternative care is and its benefits.
Harriet worked with us in our babies’ home, when we closed it she volunteered and was trained on being a foster carer.
She shared that she has seen the children placed in her care develop faster than when they are in an orphanage. “The children grow up faster and more confident," she says
Joel spent his childhood in an orphanage and left the care system as a young adult. He shared that he did not know what to do when he left the orphanage. “I wish I had grown up within a family," he said "I would have a family to call my own,”
Most journalists noted that they had no idea what alternative care is. “When I came here, I did not understand issues surrounding the protection of children, adoption or foster care,” said Juma Sseyid a journalist with Rock Mambo Radio.
After the workshop, we asked Juma what he had learnt, he was quick to say the discussions had armed him with tools to use to promote alternative care.
"My radio station will undertake an initiative to promote adoption and alternative care in Tororo region" he added
Tororo is one of the districts where we are currently working with the Government to transform from dependence on orphanages to family based care.
Lydia Ejon a journalist from Radio Lira also shared that the discussions were an eye opener for her. “I have been inspired to make a positive change,” she said.
One of the policy under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGSLD) is making sure that children in Uganda grow up in families.
“We encourage that instead of children being placed in residential care facilities, we want to see them going to relatives, the uncles, the sisters, the brothers and the grandparents," said Shafiq Butanda, the head of Alternative Care Unit, MoGSLD. "To us, family is a better place for children,”