It's only four days since we were granted approval to open the home, and today we received our first children. Siblings from a very sad background, parents have totally abandoned them, neither of whom live in Mozambique any longer. Grandmum was caring for them until her simple reed home burnt down in a house fire. She lost everything and has very little income to provide for their needs. Health issues, no schooling. Seems like a good situation for Tutela to support, and we plan to maintain good relations with the grandmum going forward.
Great News! Today we got the thumbs up from Social Services. The Maputo city director visited our foster home, did a tour, gave some recommendations and said we could start placing children. A big relief after months of preparing, then chasing, then waiting, not to mention hoping for a good outcome. Today we're approved!
Seb and Rida have been living in their new home for a month now. Settled in well, they are adjusting to new neighbours, a new community of people and a different life. We are now pushing the Department for Social Services to give us the final approval to begin placing children.
It's been in the pipeline since January - a fairly thorough selection process to choose our first foster couple. Seb and Rida have accepted and are both nervous and excited to begin this journey of fostering children. A mature couple; stable, healthy and with wonderful patience for people.
Meet Manuel; he's a graduate from the University of Eduardo Mondlane in Social Services, with some good experience in community projects around Maputo. He excels in honesty and trustworthiness and
We have been in conversation with Iris Ministries for a couple of months now. Iris are Jonny and becky's previous employers, an NGO who have been established in Mozambique for over 20 years. We are talking to them to help us find a way forward to get the foster homes up and running. Since we submitted Tutela's registration forms to become an NGO, we've not heard a peep from the Moz government. Anticipating a long wait until we get approval, we are seeking a way forward to open the first foster home more quickly. Iris Ministries are agreeing to support our plans and have also agreed to be our umbrella covering so we can start the first foster home under their NGO status. Great news for us! And a big thanks to our colleagues at Iris - particularly Steve and Ros, plus Francisco.
It's been a long time with heads down and focused minds. Today Tutela has reached a milestone as we submitted our documents to be registered. Relief and happiness to get this far, plus nerves and anticipation, hoping to get approval! Will know more in November...
Since Becky and I (Jonny) brought our family back to Mozambique in 2015, we have always maintained our desire to open foster homes here in Maputo. The past two years in here have been a challenge; we've sought to forge a way forward that is mindful of the culture, wanting to be sure that our desired model of foster homes is appropriate for the context of Maputo. Running the parenting courses has been a worthwhile activity; it's allowed us to get to know the local communities here, and has given us the opportunity to listen to the struggles and challenges of parents who are raising their children in impoverished settings. It has been eye-opening to say the least, hearing stories of mothers and fathers who battle to make ends meet whilst doing their best as parents. We now have an even higher respect for many mums and dads here in Mozambique as a result of all we've heard.
It is with this experience that we are pursuing with even more determination the Tutela mission. Our mission has two parts - firstly to open the foster homes to protect children who have been abandoned. Secondly we will support families who are in vulnerable circumstances with the aim of increasing their chances of providing more secure homes for their children.
For now, we need to place more focus on getting the homes up and running, which involves a number of obstacles to overcome. There is no formal network of foster care here in Maputo, as of yet, and we know it needs to happen here. Once we have at least two homes in their pilot stages of receiving children we can then put our attention back on the parenting courses and offering more specific support to vulnerable families.
Our third parenting course was concluded this past weekend in true Mozambican fashion. Songs, prayers, words of gratefulness, motivated participants and a tasty chicken lunch, Zambezi style.
In order to go forward with the foster homes, we need to be registered with the government's department for Social Welfare in Maputo. Some of the forms to be filled in have to be seen to be believed. This registration has taken a back seat for now (as we are trying to get the family settled into schools, etc), which has been a tad frustrating, although one advantage here is that our charity Tutela will soon have been created two years ago, not just one. Hence, when I (Jonny) submit our completed forms, the application may care a bit more weight. We are hoping that the registration application will be handed in during the first 5 or 6 weeks of 2017.
Donations to Tutela have mostly been given in the UK. As and when required, transfers have been passed to us in Mozambique for specific purposes, eg: expenses to do with parenting courses. Up until recently, the funds were put into our personal bank account, although they were spent on Tutela activities (and accounted for to our Trustees in the UK). Aside from these funds, we have also been given 400,000 Mets here in Mozambique. This amount sounds more than it is, although it's still rather large; we are very grateful for the gift, and its approximate value is £4,300 british pounds. Since receiving this gift, we have now set up a ‘Tutela’ account in Mozambique. The nation is currently facing a banking crisis, and in the last few months, TWO banks have either been shut down or put into administration. Hence we took advice before opening this new Tutela account as the last thing we want is to be banging on the door of a bank that has just ceased trading. The bank we chose is considered to be one of the most reliable here.
The mums and dads broke out into song during the final session of our eight week parenting course; a beautiful African occasion, with tangible vibes of joy.
The photo shows three generations of a family who have taken part in our parenting course. The lady in the middle of the picture, Fernanda, is the mum to the young baby. She completed Tutela's first course just before giving birth. She then made sure that her husband (left) and mother in law (holding the baby) joined our second course. Its great to see families like Fernanda's who are keen to do the best they can for their children. Despite the pressures of life here in Moz, it's clear that Fernanda's family are committed to providing a good future for their little ones.
The mother in law lives quite a long way away so has been getting up at 4am in the morning to travel the distance and join us for the sessions - amazing dedication!
These guys have helped us a great deal so far - the International Child Development Program. We love the material they produce and the way they freely support our efforts to invest in Mozambican parents. It's an unusual thing to find an organisation here in Maputo, who are both good at what they do, and humble and approachable with it; that's our experience so far with ICDP.
They have produced a series of seminar packs that engage parents on healthy interaction with children, tools on maintaining closeness and intimacy in the family home and promoting a resilient upbringing. We use their material for our parenting course; run by Domingos, my colleague. Every time Domingos and myself run the seminar session, we learn new things for our own parenting journey, whilst at the same time, teaching the mums and dads these worthwhile tools.
In planning our seminars, one thing we have to remember is that many mums and dads in Mozambique are fairly rudimentary with their parenting style. For example, many think it's an acceptable practice to hit a child as part of their upbringing. ICDP did some research a few years back to find out how effective their material is with parents. They discovered that those who took part in the seminars were far less likely to hit their children once they had been through the course. This in itself is a good thing, and shows how a bit of education can go a long way in shaping parents' perspectives.
We are glad to be forming a link with ICDP and excited to be spreading their material amongst the mums and dads of Maputo, to neighbourhoods that have never had access to it before.
Mums and dads are learning really important tools here in our second session of the new parenting course. Today is all about seeing that we can keep our children protected and safe when we provide a solid circle of family, friends, school, church and community.
A wonderful way to complete our first ever parenting course - with 76 mums and dads receiving their certificates of completion. It's a fantastic way to encourage and boost them on their parenting journey. Our trainer, Domingos (front centre of photo, sat down) was excellent in his style and delivery of the training. It's a pleasure to have him onboard.
As part of our desire to strengthen families and prevent potential family-separation, we are hosting an 8-session parenting course for Mozambican mums and dads. We are two sessions in, and the response has been overwhelming! So many parents want training and input. The session last saturday included 67 participants. The training is led by qualified Mozambican trainers, at a level that engages everyone.
The following snippet is taken from our recent newsletter...
There is a lot to get ready in preparation the first homes. The way to get things done in Mozambique is through relationships - knowing the right people and knocking on doors to meet more people. So we're making ourselves known here, building a network of connections and registering our project with Social Welfare. Getting registered is not an easy task and takes time and patience (just like most things do in Moz).
As well as translating documents into Portuguese, we have been getting our heads around Mozambican charity and employment law as well as understanding the rights of the child here. There is a lot of research and admin involved, without which Tutela wouldn't get off the ground.
On a more exciting note, we are starting to build a Tutela team! Domingos (pictured above) is our first Mozambican colleague and started working with us in February. With a Social Work background, he has some important insights and expert knowledge to help us engage with local communities here.
Coming up in the next month or two, Tutela will offer some parenting training for Mozambican mums and dads; a weekly course with simple tools to support them in raising their children. Out of this training, we're also expecting to find some potential foster parents who can partner with Tutela in providing much needed family homes for children in need.
The Wakelys have made the leap from England to Mozambique. Navigating airports, Maputo traffic and sandy roads, the Wakelys have re-connected with life in sunny climates. And they are getting ready to launch Tutela in Africa.
Becky, myself and our three sproglets, Gracie, Honor and Josiah, will be heading back to Mozambique in August this year (2015). This is when Tutela will begin it's set-up phase to establish the foster homes. That's only six months away! There's lots to do between now and then...
Read more info in our recent newsletter:
Donate to Kitty Allsop who is running seven half marathons in the coming weeks, all in aid of Tutela. We are extremely impressed by Kitty's gutsy approach to fundraising:
Hurray we are now a registered charity! As of last night, we received an email from the charity commision to say we have got our charity status.
I heard this quote from an interview on BBC 5 live today... It definitely hits the heart of our Tutela vision:
It's always nice to have a positive piece written about us in the local newspaper :)
We were taken aback by just how wonderful the afternoon was. It was fun and buzzy, with lots of friends and families popping in to bid in the auction, eat a piece of cake or create some kiddies craft. We had an amazing team of people who poured their time and energy into making the event run smoothly and they made us look good! And to top it off, we raised over £1,900 to go towards our first piece of land in Mozambique. It was the perfect celebration of Tutela being born.
We are having a great time in Cape Town - Jonny, Becky, Ruth, Lizzie and baby Josiah. Spending lots of time visiting the Home from Home foster care and getting to grips with their model of care. We've learned some great insights this week, and are genuinely impressed by what a great job the foster parents are doing for the children here. Tuesday, we visited some of the homes in the Khylitsha township (see below) and chatted with both the foster mum and the social workers there. One key for us in setting up our homes in Mozambique is to develop a strong social work team. We can see the great benefits of that here.
Only six days until we go to Cape Town!! Getting trained by foster agency, Home from Home: facebook.com/HomefromHomeSA