Zimpeto Child Reintegration Program - Maputo, Mozambique
Children come to Iris from very diverse situations. Many come because of the lack of adequate supervision in their own family situations. Children are often found by the Police running around the streets and neighbours houses, or are sick and have very poor health, many suffering from malnutrition. Many families are affected by poverty and the inability to support their own children. Some children are brought to the centre by a parent or family member because of a death of a parent or caretaker (often from AIDS), unmanageable sickness in the home, or because there is an abusive/dangerous situation in the family home.
[2 children, Glouber and Denisia reunited with their mother after years
of disunity and disagreement among the family - finally resolved to
allow the children to return home. The children had been separated from
their family for 2 years. A happy ending!!]
The goal of this program is to successfully integrate as many children and youth back into families as possible, to avoid the institutionalized setting wherever possible. It is the desire of our hearts to reunite children with families. As we work with social workers who spend much scheduled time visiting families and investigating each child's 'story', wherever possible we will help children move back to healthy situations and assist in providing whatever is necessary, be it education expenses, medical expenses, food, clothing, helping with housing repairs, in order to make this transition possible. The team will then support and follow these children/youth, and make themselves available to provide extra help as needed for the next year or more.
[The 3 amazing Reintegration team social workers, left to right -
Julieta, Eliza Julieta and Sonia. These ladies show patience, tough
love everyday, and have a heart for reuniting families]
The children that are prioritized for this program are primarily the older ones, typically between 15 and 17 years of age, who have lived at the centre between 1 and 8 years already. The Mozambican Government prefers that youth are living out of the centre by the time they reach the age of 18 and we realize that it is healthier for them to be in smaller family settings at this stage. The next priority is given to those children who spend weekend or holidays with family. The potential children typically have some form of family, whether it is an aunt, uncle, parent, sibling or grandparent. The children must have been visiting this family for a minimum of one year before they would be considered as a potential reintegration child. We try to look for families who would have some type of basic housing/land, and who would be able to provide for basic food and living costs.
[A little girl, Marta, desperately wanting to be a part of a family, but
both parents died. Taken in and wanted voluntarily by her Aunty
and a family]
Since the onset of this program back in 2004, Iris has seen over 250 children successfully reintegrated into family situations, whether their own or with other families (including pastors), or through house building in the community. IMC has built some 2 room houses (2 boys per home) for some of the senior boys who leave the centre and have no families to return to, in the nearby Village of Maracuene. The breakdown shows that about 50% of the reintegration’s to date have been with older youth, and 50% have been with children under the age of 12.
IMC is pleased to continue funding the ongoing reintegration program at the Zimpeto centre for the upcoming year, 2011.