Children are often living without adults because they have no one to move in with after the death of their parents. In many cases, children do not want to be separated from their siblings so they will continue trying to survive together. They have no supervision. They are vulnerable. Many also drop out of school and are forced into exploitative and dangerous work for their survival.
The number of relatives available to any given individual is decreasing rapidly as well. In addition, AIDS and armed conflict are overburdening social systems, and governments lack the resources to adequately care for the ever increasing number of orphaned children. For the children in our program, family means their brothers and sisters and the "God" mothers who serve in our program.
Many of the siblings live in houses, side-by- side, in a compound-like setting. Others still live in the home they previously shared with their parents. Our loving and dedicated "God" parents provide psycho-social support, conduct routine home based care visits, ensure that the children are attending school, assist with school work, provide access to health care, prescriptions and medicines and also deliver food, meals and provide nutritional support.
World Children's Fund also provides for essentials like school uniforms and materials, such as books, pencils and other supplies. Children can also come to the main center before school for tea and breakfast and can return after school for help with their studies or additional support.
Executive program director, Olinda Mugabe, knows what it is like to come from a poor family. "I know suffering," she says, recalling her own humble beginnings as one of twelve children growing up in the Gaza province of Mozambique.
As a child, she had to drop out of school and worked selling cashew nuts to help support her family. A local teacher offered to pay her way if she was allowed by her father to come back to school. As a result, she was able to finish her education in Mozambique and eventually went to London to study, where she became a nurse.
"I am Olinda today because someone helped me. -Somebody supported me," she said. "When I returned to Mozambique, it became clear something had to be done for all the children in the community who had lost their mothers. My heart was heavy because there were so many suffering children."
It costs about $7,000 USD, to construct a house for a sibling family. We are also in the process of building a new program center in Maputo, Mozambique.
"This program is about children who have lost their mothers and fathers and "meeting" and "finding" a new mother," Olinda said. "Even though their parents have died, when they join our family, they know they have someone who loves them."
For the first time, the program will be able to accommodate forty-eight orphans, who will live on the premise full time "Our donors need to know that they are stopping the tears. Because of their contributions, we are making children smile again," said Olinda.