It has been a little while since I visited St. Andrews baby unit and spend time with the children although I must say it gives me nostalgia whenever I plan for a visit. This is because every time I see the children my heart is filled with happiness as there is progress made in each and every child. I must commend the work done by the matron and the house mothers who play a big role in taking good care of these children until they get to that age of learning to be independent and start school. Whenever I get an opportunity to meet the house mothers, I do not forget to thank them for serving these children as I often remind them that their work is beyond a normal occupation as they are called “mothers” with a purpose of raising a generation of children who are to become great and responsible people in future despite their background circumstances.
Raymond was brought to the St. Andrews Baby Unit when he was 7 months old. His parents separated due to domestic violence. The mother ran away and left Raymond and his two siblings with their father who is a heavy drinker. The man would leave the children on their own to look for casual work before getting drunk and spend the money he had worked for without considering the welfare of the children. This made the neighbours angry and they reported the matter to the authorities. After learning this, the father took the children to their maternal grandmother who was too old to take care of an infant. The police investigated the case and they were able to trace the mother who was apprehended for child negligence and put on probation. The children’s officer placed Raymond at the baby unit and ensured that the mother would visit him once in a while during the probation period to create the bond so that she can able to take him back at the end of probation period. The matron and social worker from the main children’s home recently visited Raymond grandmother’s and to their shock they were informed that the mother was released after probation but she took away the other two children who were living with their grandmother and went to rent a house in another town far away from her matrimonial home. We are hoping that the whereabouts of Raymond’s mother will be known and she accepts to take back her child and raise them all with a happy ending.
Other news is that all the children are making good progress and as Fidelis, John and Raymond are taught simple life skills like self-feeding and potty training. Natasha and Blessing are big girls who are able to dress themselves and use in house toilets on their own.
As Vision Africa is looking in to ways whereby children in institutional care can be reunited with their families or placed with adoptive or foster families, St. Andrews Baby Unit will remain a safe haven to the vulnerable children who are rescued from parental negligence, orphaned or abandoned. The process will take months or even years to complete, hence Vision Africa is not taking chances with its child integration programme since its mission is to “Enable every child to realise their potential, be valued by family and community and ensure they have dignity, opportunity and hope now and in the future through the 3Ps Protection, Provision and preparation”. Therefore we are engaging all stakeholders involved with in children’s welfare in government and County level as well other partner organizations that have successfully re-integrated children back to their families across East Africa.
St. Andrews Baby Unit also started the process of tracing parents and relatives of the children to ensure that they too are involved in the re-integration programme since some of them are not living far from the main children’s home. Although there are challenges being faced with regards to tracking down the whereabouts of families, there is hope for some children to be re-united with their families. Home visits and assessment are being carried out to ensure that before a child is reintegrated back to his or her family, all the issues that led to their vulnerability are resolved and the family is ready and willing to take them back in to their life just like in the case of Raymond.All children who have been abandoned and their families untraced have already been placed with adoptive or foster families.
We at Vision Africa appreciate your continuous support in making St Andrews Baby Unit a pleasant home for these children. We hope you find this partnership worthwhile because we believe the future of these children are in our hands as they grow up in a protected safe and loving environment where all their needs are well taken care of.
Please note that on Giving Tuesday (29th November) The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match up to $1 million in donations on GlobalGiving with 50%. Matching begins at 00:00:01 EST and ends at 23:59:59 EST on November 29th, 2016 or when matching funds run
Raymond,John and Natash having porridge
John can now play with a ball