In 14 days time, we are going out to Uganda for 3 weeks to conduct a planning trip.
Our aim is to build a centre of excellence to provide life saving care to abandoned babies and return children to their own families or to foster or adoptive families. This trip is going to determine just how we are going to deliver our promise.
We are taking Brian Waller, our most capable social work adviser who is now working with us to develop our social care approach. He has worked in Uganda and has years of experience in working with families and young children.
21 days is not a lot of time especially as we need to find the answers to some fundamental questions including:
Why are babies being abandoned?
More to the point why do mothers abandon their babies? Is there anyway we could help prevent mothers abandoning their babies in the first place? Tackle the root cause of abandonment and work with mothers to prevent abandonment and ultimately be the people they turn to instead of abandoning their newborn baby in a derelict building?
We now need to decide exactly what extra services we are going to provide beyond the immediate care of newly abandoned babies. Should we, for example, design our centre to accommodate mothers too on a daily or residential basis? We need to talk to government, existing projects and, if possible, mothers themselves about our plans and see where the gaps in provisions are in childcare.
Location is key. Our project must be firmly based in a local community. It has to be genuinely supported by the local people and local agencies and feel “African” and not something transplanted from outside the continent. If we cannot achieve that ‘buy in” from the very beginning our project will never be sustainable.
We want to find foster or adoptive homes for abandoned children but this is not so common an idea as it is here. It would be easier to look after them long term in an institution but we don’t believe being another orphan statistic is best for the child. Our challenge is to find existing and reliable charities who do this and family support work well and who could work in partnership with us.
And there’s more…
Every day we want to upload a daily video and blog to keep supporters updated on the progress of our project but we need to see if this works on a practical level. We are lucky enough to take out Saffron Jackson, Producer of The Gap Year who has travelled around Africa and is an expert at filming, shooting and uploading videos so if anyone can do it Saffron can but it will be an interesting exercise to see if the idea in theory works in reality. We’ll find out soon enough…
What you can do…
We need your input as this is your charity and we want you to get involved. We want to have a conversation with you so please send us your questions, add your comments, send us ideas, give us advice and support and help us create a centre which we can all be proud of.