Children living in residential care centers in Mozambique
BEIRA, Mozambique, 18 July 2011 - It is mid-morning and Ana (not her real name), a girl of one year and four months, is happily playing with her aunt and sister. Her home is a small house made of bricks, dark with no windows and with a loose roof. Fourteen days after Ana was born, she was admitted to the Colégio Infantil residential care center due to the risk posed to her life by her family. Both Ana’s parents are alive, but her mother was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward at the time of Ana’s birth and is still troubled by serious mental disease, which makes her unfit and unable to care for Ana and her sister. At the time of her birth, Ana’s father was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis (TB), whilst suffering a chronic disease. Ana’s case was referred to Colégio Infantil by the Provincial Directorate of Women and Social Action.
During Ana’s temporary one-year stay in Colégio Infantil, she was provided with love, maternal care, nutritional support and medical monitoring and treatment. At all times, links with her family were maintained, with the objective of eventually reintegrating the girl with her family. Ana was reintegrated with her family in February 2011, placed in the care of her mother’s sister, who is also caring for her four year old sister. Ana continues to attend her consultations at the Ponta Gea Hospital regularly, where she also receives prophylactic treatment with cotrimoxazol.
Support for ‘family together’
Despite the daunting challenges involved, the aunt agreed to take in Ana and is receiving help through home-based support, which includes treatment, counseling, milk, food, clothes, soap, mosquito nets and toys. Ana is a case of successful family reintegration, for whenever the unannounced home visits are made, Ana is always well taken care of, with clean clothes and following the growth curve on her growth chart.
Colégio Infantil provides care to children affected by poverty, sickness, malaria, HIV, malnourishment, loss of parents or breakdown of family structure, as well as children whose life is at risk, children who are underdeveloped or experience stunting, be it physical, emotional or intellectual. Colégio infantil activities fall into two areas: provision of home-based care centered on the family, for children between ages 0-12, who receive food aid, support to attend school and access to school materials, and legal aid – birth registration and information about inheritance rights; access to health services and delivery of mosquito nets; and psycho-social support – through home based care, treatment and support to overcome life’s daily struggles.
The second area is temporary residential care, aimed at children who are scarred by a serious family or social situation and who are in need of intensive or special care. The residential care center provides care and services essential to the children’s survival, such as physical and emotional care, including infant maternal care, nutrition support according to age, educational and creative programs, prevention of diseases and medical assistance, legal assistance and psycho-social support, which also includes preparation for family reintegration.
Colégio Infantil has trained a network of activists to provide psycho-social support to orphaned and vulnerable children, as well as to elderly people who are in need. Colégio Infantil’s nurse and other activists provide medical and psycho-social support to Ana and her aunt, and to the community at large. “I go and visit them at least twice a month, listen to what their concerns are, do regular check-ups on Ana, advise them and help them in what they need,” says the nurse.
In all, more than 1,142 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) are being assisted by Colégio Infantil in Beira, in coordination with the local authorities. The mobilization of communities to support OVC is part of the assistance provided by UNICEF and its partners to help the Government implement its Action Plan for OVCs. The plan aims to reach more than 1.3 million children with basic social services.
For more information, please contact:
Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: email@example.com