Signs of Development
2013 was one an unprecedented year for development in Mufindi, as it seemed as though the signs of development were everywhere. More homes were built, more homes refurbished, more vehicles were purchased, and most importantly more families pulled themselves out of extreme poverty than ever before. In just one year electricity was offered to and installed into hundreds of homes in the area, a water project for many villages was proposed, and accepted, and for the first time since Igoda Children’s Village opened in 2007, the number of children enrolled at the Children’s Village went down. This was due to the fact that more families were on their own feet, and healthy enough to care for their children again. Extensive follow-up on families in the first few months of 2014 has shown a great level of success for the children who have returned to their families.
When a child finishes his or her stay at the Children’s Village, we call this a graduation. It is a carefully calculated process as the exit can be bittersweet. Children love the Children’s Village, but find great happiness in returning to their families in the village. For their part, families find great pride in having their children back with them. Many factors go into the decision making process for a family and for our organization both when a child enters the Children’s Village, and when that child is prepared to leave.
Some of the questions asked of families wishing to have their child back into the village with them include how often that family came to visit the child while living at the Children’s Village, what type of home and standard of living have the family created or prepared for the returning child, and how able is the family to ensure that the child will continue with good health, and remain in school?
A family wishing to welcome their child home generally comes to visit the Children’s Village, and is then asked these questions, and more, followed by a house visit. The family then must acquire a letter from a local authority stating they are able to care for the child. Most often the child has already visited the home over night, or for an extended period of time during a school holiday to help acclimate both sides to the new transitional period. Once all parties are happy with the situation a graduation party is planned, and they are one of the more joyous occasions here at the Children’s Village. While everyone at the Children’s Village says farewell to a loved member of the center, ultimately the ceremony is a celebration as everyone is glad to see the development in the community.
Follow up, and the Future of the Children’s Village
Every feasible measure is taken to follow up on children and families once they have returned home. Since the process of graduation helps build the relationship between the child, the family, and the organization, everyone is interested in what is best for the child, and even if another stay at the Children’s Village is needed while adjustments are made at the child’s home, this decision is discussed and reached at a consensus.
In June 2013 the Children’s Village hosted 80 children, and at the start of March 2014, there are now 48. In recent weeks however, and influx of infants have been enrolled, all with plans to stay for 2-4 years while their families prepare to support their schooling. Most infants are enrolled as a result of the passing of their mother, and families find it hard to cope with the infant child. All of us foresee a need a for infant care continuing into the future. Meanwhile, fewer and fewer older children have been enrolled in the past 6 months, and we again contribute that to the level of positive development in the community. The availability of HIV treatment has worked wonders for this area, and we have started to see the results of these developments in a very tangible and rapid way this year.
While the area begins to recover, the organization’s work must shift with the need. While great strides need to be taken now to prevent a regression from all of the hard work that has been done with this community the past 9 years, it is uplifting to see that there is a great deal of success to be proud of already!