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Eswatini Develops reintegration guidelines

Eswatini Develops reintegration guidelines

SOS Children’s Villages management has met to analyze and validate the newly developed reintegration guidelines at Mdolomba this July. Over the years the organisation has had challenges in re-integrating children back to their families and communities, mostly because reintegration is a very delicate, sensitive and emotional process for all stakeholders involved. It cannot be one size fit all approach as children come into alternative care for various reasons and have unique challenges. The reintegration guidelines have been developed after the introduction of the SOS Children’s Villages Regional Reintegration Guidelines (2021). The National Association started the process of engaging relevant stakeholders towards the localization of the regional reintegration guidelines in March 2022. These stakeholders involved Alternative Care Coordinators, Social Workers, Foster Care Manager, Programme Directors, Children & Young People and the Department of Social Welfare Social Workers. The stakeholders reviewed the regional guidelines and shared their inputs on critical issues that the local reintegration guidelines should consider.

The aim of these guidelines is to improve the reintegration of all children who have been separated children through an emergency and non-emergency situations. The main objectives of the guidelines is to streamline and standardize the child reintegration process across all programme locations within the National Association. This is to ensure compliance and alignment with locally and internationally recognized child care frameworks, reintegration frameworks and child care Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and processes. The guidelines will improve quality child care service delivery and standardize child care practices. The various stakeholders input is being incorporated into the developed reintegration guidelines, to also align it with the Leaving Care Guide. The final product will be shared with the board for approval.

Emergency placement guidelines

The National Management Team together with Programme Management reviewed the emergency placement guidelines at Mdolomba, in a meeting held on the 14 July 2022. In recent times many global and national factors have cause children to lose parental care, such as Covid-19 and the recent political unrest. As a key stakeholders to alternative care, SOS Children’s Villages has opted to introduce another care option to support government during urgent situation where an immediate placement is needed for a child who in on the verge of losing parental care or has already lost it. This care option will give the Department of Social Welfare adequate time to investigate on possibilities of reintegrating the child with his/her biological parents or immediate next of keen within the kinship care setting.

After all this has been exhausted to the fullest and it is discovered that the child need to be placed in alternative care, this will still be within the government social workers as duty bearers of alternative care to identify and effect the best necessity and suitable alternative care option for the child. SOS Children’s Villages share the strong sentiment as highlighted in the UN guidelines that the institutionalization of children should be prevented where possible while families and communities continue to be given priority in providing alternative care for children who have lost parental care. The emergency care option is a short and temporal care of not more than 6 months, customized to provide suitable child care in a family like situation that will embrace the rights and needs of the child. This document has been successfully validated and ready for submission to the board.

A big milestone for the foster care programme

The 29th July 2022 marked a big milestone for the foster care programme, as it successfully placed a child into the hands of a capable and loving family, who desired to provide a loving home for the child. This event came after a whole year of waiting for the Ntjangase family, who had been recommended by the foster care placement committee to foster. There were challenges in getting children to be matched with potential foster parents. Although, this is not to say that there are no vulnerable children in the country, however, most vulnerable children had already been placed in other alternative care settings. The Department of Social welfare in partnership with SOS children’s villages had to mitigate the challenges by developing guidelines for emergency placement, so that children are placed in suitable and necessary care settings, hence the success of a child being placed with the right family. The Ntjangase family were very excited to receive the child, who matched their preferred requirements.

The national foster care programme was officially launched March 2021, and saw over 30 potential foster parents applications. The Ntjangase family was among the applicants, who were interested to help raise a child who needed a family. “My wife and I decided to apply for the programme as we have do not have a child yet, also so that we can provide a home for a child who does not have a home and a family. We also believe that we can be capable to provide for the child with the resources that God has blessed us with. We are blessed, not for our own, but to be a blessing to others. I would sincerely encourage others to join the programme and help provide a loving home for a child in need”, said Mr. Ntjangase.

The National foster care programme continues to welcome applications of EmaSwati who are willing to become foster parents and provide a warm and loving home for a child in need.

To apply visit; www. Bantfwabetfu.org

Handcraft puts food on my table

Handcraft puts food on my table

Make Dlamini a single parent caregiver of two young boys, who lives in the Siphocosini inkhundla, makes a living through hand crafts and sustenance farming of a vegetables garden. Mrs Dlamini had the land and water as available resources when she lobbied to SOS for support of seedlings to be able to grow a garden for her family consumption and to make a living by selling the surplus. Mrs Dlamini weaves baskets and sells them to the local and neighbouring countries to support her family. SOS Children’s Villages under the Family strengthening programme in Mbabane has assisted Mrs. Dlamini with money management skills and financial literacy as well as household management skills for her to be able to manage and provide for her household needs.

SOS Children’s villages ensures that many more children do not go to bed hungry by supporting their families to keep healthy vegetable gardens. The organisation ensures that families provide adequate nutrition to their children and support their development.

Training of Media Houses on Alternative Care and Foster care

SOS Children’s Villages in Collaboration with the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office organized a media training to sensitize journalist on alternative care options in particular foster care. In attendance during the training were six different media houses, with a total of twelve journalist who were trained and given a media package consisting of the UN Guidelines on alternative care; Eswatini Guidelines on Alternative Care amongst other child protection laws related documents.

With the upcoming foster care media campaign to be launched prospectively on 15 March 2021, SOS Children’s Villages Eswatini together with the DPMO’s office, ensure that the media has a buy in first, and are trained to understand the situation of children without parental care in the context of Eswatini. Discussing in particular the solutions to those problems, as well as the media’s role in the matter.

During the training, which was held at the Hilton Gardens inn hotel, it was highlighted that Eswatini has about 40-child care Centre’s, of which the Government only owns and manages one of them. These Centre’s cater for over 2000 children, who are in need of parental care, making foster care a need in Eswatini, said Sindi Dube, Director of the Department of Social welfare.

The media will be very instrumental in assisting to educate the Swazi nation about foster care and alternative care options as a whole, since it is a new concept in the country.  During several presentations, it came out well in a research study done by SOS Children’s Villages Eswatini in the Shiselweni Region, that Swazis are used to taking care of children within their extended family settings, making kinship care an informal care option that is commonly practiced. However, the issue of children without adequate parental care is prevalent in the country as more homesteads are child headed.

Makhosini Mndawe, Principal Secretary of the Deputy Prime minister’s Office said ,” the Government is working tirelessly in formalizing Alternative care options for Emaswati, in particular implementing foster care to support the needs of children without parental care”, when talking to the media during an interview. He further thanked SOS Children’s Villages for the support in taking initiative to work with Government in solving these issues. The success of the training was visible as the media was commenting and publishing stories of the training on-air (Television and Radio) and on Print. Both major newspaper covered the article as well as an online source. Together these media platforms reach more than 500 thousand audiences.

THE BIG WIN, First Runner up – JA Winning

SOS Children’s Villages Eswatini signed a partnership agreement with Junior Achievement (JA) Eswatini. This initiative saw the formation of three companies namely; Ekutfokomeni Youth Pride Company from Siteki, Vigour Development Company from Nhlangano and Revolution of the Youngsters from Mbabane. These companies are owned by a total of 109 young people from the MA where 52 are from Siteki, 32 from Nhlangano and 25 from Mbabane Programme Locations. That is not all as the whole Programme is divided into two sections in each location.

For youth aged between 13 and 15 the offering is financial literacy, where the youngsters are given a chance to participate as Lubane Cooperative Society members and holders of student accounts at Eswatini Bank. The Mini Companies mentioned above belong to the young people who are aged 16 and above. Aimed at empowering young people, the mini-companies are formed to equip members with financial and entrepreneurship skills, including starting income-generating projects over a managed period of time (normally 10 weeks) from start to liquidation. They buy shares and use that amount as start-up capital for their income generating projects. After liquidation, these companies compete against other mini companies formed by students in different schools. The competitions start in Regions where the top four schools then compete nationally. SOS youth were new players in the game, but this did not stop them from entering the competitions.

Ekutfokomeni Youth Pride Company obtained second position and a trophy in the Lubombo Region after showcasing their company which produces broiler chickens and peanut butter. Vigour Development Company obtained position 6 in the Shiselweni Region and the products they produce are hand/dish washing liquid and broilers while Revolution of the Youngsters produces African jewellery and other pieces of art and they obtained position 5 in the Hhohho Region.

These companies are composed of highly motivated, focused, vibrant and committed boys and girls who need minimum supervision. They surprised their facilitators by working extra hard and respecting the leaders that they chose amongst themselves as Executive Committee Members. All shareholders were cooperative and goal driven until the end.

By history and perception, children who find themselves in the hands of SOS Children’s Villages, depend solely on donors, that is, money just comes from donors and young people are supposed to sit back and watch the donor carry them all the steps of their lives without putting in any effort. These company initiatives are here to overturn such a perception and get youth to align themselves with the mission statement of SOS Children’s Villages “We build families for children in need, we help them shape their own futures and we share in the development of their communities”. These companies aim at strengthening the capability of youth to shape their own futures through financial empowerment and entrepreneurship.`

World children’s day

The children hosted the event. The program directors of the day created a pleasant mood and started the event by inviting the distinguished guest to the dance floor. The children had well prepared for the event with the assistance of their SOS mothers and educational teachers. During the event, different children were reimagine a better world for every child sharing inspirational messages to teach, poetry to motivate and drama to inspire. They had beautifully displayed their artwork, that was used to teach about wrong habits to avoid during covid-19 and inspire others children with skills to be busy with during the schools lockdown. Dances were the order of the day as both boys and girls interchanged dances moves entertaining the guest.

Although he appreciated the government intervention with providing free educational lessons through the national television and radio, he commented that virtual/ online learning has now passive and not interactive, as not many chances are afforded to students to ask at home whilst the lessons are ongoing. The student teacher interaction is minimal and thus students learn without understanding and comprehension of concepts.

During an open dialogue Bandile Mabuza representing children in the Kingdom of Eswatini commented on the issues that children face during this pandemic, such as Gender based Violence that results to mental health issues in teenagers. He provided statistics that continue to show the gender inequality that prevails in Eswatini. He made an example of how young boys who impregnate girls are still allowed to continue with their education whilst, girls are kicked out of school and discontinue their education. Bandile emphasized the importance of equal education and stated that the lack of adequate ICT gadgets continue to create a huge educational divide between the poor and the affording learners.

He pleaded to the government and partners to provide less privileged children with the technological gadgets they need for virtual leaning to make their learning smooth. Bandile further suggested that schools could be opened with strengthened regulations during the pandemic. He concluded his open dialogue speech by requesting children’s representative in parliament or youth parliament to tackle most if not all children issues.

Every child is a treasure

UN Resident Coordinator; Nathalie Ndongo- Seh, applauded all the children for their impactful participation and dialogue. She said she was delighted in celebrating the day with the children at the SOS children’s Villages Mbabane. She further highlighted that every a child is treasure and the future of Eswatini. Although this year has been a year of devastation, she promised that the UN and partners would continue to fight for all children to go back to school and not fall into poverty.

Director of the children’s department at the Deputy Prime Ministers Office, Mhambi Ndlangamandla said “Everything you have said we will take into consideration when we are developing programmes for children in the department”.

Concluding the event, UNICEF Natalie Daries, who is head of child protection at UNICEF Eswatini Country Office was representing the Country Representative, mentioned that there is great improvement in the health and educational systems of Eswatini. She acknowledge that there is still more work to be done to ensure that every child is protected and can learn in order to reach their dreams.

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