When, last September, Lucy first told me about her ideas and asked me to be her Social Work Adviser I was, to be honest, rather sceptical. In my long career in Child Welfare, including work in Africa, I had learned to be very cautious about people with bright ideas and extremely doubtful about orphanages of any description. I remember writing some stern words of warning about her plans and rather hoped she would go away.
In the event, and being Lucy, she persisted and persuaded me to listen to what she had learned in Uganda over the last four years. Since then we have innumerable conversations and some arguments, about what might work best in Kampala and, most importantly for me, be consistent with modern social work principles and practice.
It has proved to be an intriguing but productive journey – the child care expert meeting the pioneering visionary, so to speak. And now here in Uganda we have had a chance to actually test out our ideas in practice by looking at a whole range of services, good and not so good, here on the ground and, above all, to talk with Ugandan families and professionals about what they want to happen to give families and children “at risk” a better chance.
I now believe that there is definitely a place for a relatively small – perhaps a 20 place – specialist transitional home or centre for babies and toddlers who have been abandoned in Kampala. The emphasis needs to be on top-quality care coupled with a total commitment to find families for these children as soon as possible.
But in addition to this I have always felt that more is needed and we now both see this in terms of some preventative services designed to offer help and support to mothers at the end of their tethers. I think that Home-Start Uganda could provide this for us at Mulago hospital. Later perhaps we might see a place for a day centre to support families in dire need.
Lucy and are very close now to an agreement about what Child’s i Foundation can best do and I am feeling positively enthused about the difference the charity will make to the lives of some extremely needy children in Uganda.
What a journey – but what a worthwhile destination!
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