We began our Relatives Support Programme (RSP) in Kinondoni (a district in north west of Dar es Salaam), as this was our original base. We support children in extremely poor families that otherwise cannot manage. Not every child that we help needs to be brought into our residential care. When a child is referred to us, our first action is to seek out any relatives. Our preference has always been to keep children with their family or near relatives.
Since then, we have become well established in Mkuranga, where the Malaika Kids Children’s Village is based. The local District Commissioner has asked us to look at helping one or two desperately poor families in the Mkuranga area that the local Welfare cannot adequately support. We agreed.
The blind woman on the left is helped by her mother (in red). This picture shows three of her children – a further child and a neighbour are also shown.
The youngest child has some support from an absentee father; the oldest lives with a relative in Dar es Salaam. The two women and three children had been crammed in one tiny room.
We now provide two monthly food packages and fortnightly vegetables aimed at the middle two children (we know they are shared); also medical insurance and some educational support. We have also rented – extremely cheaply – a second room. Both rooms are the same size; with room for a bed, and really not much more, and we provided a bed. They still all sleep top to toe.
We strongly urged the blind woman to avoid having more children, and she says she agrees.
Another poor family was brought to our attention. There are six surviving children in this family. Three are severely disabled; the condition is likely to be genetic. The children have no use of their legs and shuffle around on their bottoms; they also have severe mental challenges. Two of the children are healthy and bright. The sixth child is very young and may be also disabled.
The father tries to make a living making charcoal, but struggles. The couple have continued to have children because they wanted to have enough surviving children to help them in their old age.
The face of one child was abnormally swollen and he needed to visit the hospital urgently. Emanuel (the deputy of the Village) arranged this the following day, along with other CVM children needing a clinic visit. He has to have a tooth extracted, and this will be done on Monday.
The mother was also asked if she wanted to visit the clinic to have an “Implanon” implant – this provides birth control for several years. This can be provided free at the clinic and she has now taken advantage of it.
We want to be an active part of the Mkuranga community and helping desperately poor children is part of what we do. However, we will try to ensure that any further help goes to families we can more readily access from the Village (getting to this farm takes longer than we would like). We also do not want to be sucked into becoming a general Welfare support organisation. We are focussed on children who would otherwise be in residential care.