As the Tutela family grows, so does the list of birthdays. And as the list of birthdays grows, so does the demand for cake! Personally speaking, I (Jonny) am hugely grateful to this wonderful lady who has, along with her hubby, opened her heart to six delightful children and is raising them with a godly, strong care. This past year has been anything but easy, especially when you have six children at home without any school to attend. Hats off to Rida for being brave enough to be our first foster mother!
This is the first time we have done a day trip as a whole team of Tutela with foster family and support staff. A great day out travelling two hours outside of Maputo to visit a zoo and some waterfalls. The first time the foster children have seen giraffe, lion, camels, tiger, snakes and zebra. A great day for all!
After the kind of setback that we faced in July (see the below post), it is so important to take stock and celebrate the good things we have. It was a great loss to have to let go of our second foster couple. I had really warmed to them and was excited to see how they would be such a wonderful blessing to children. My team were also quite affected by their departure and hence, since their going, we have taken time to meet regularly and be thankful for what we have amongst us. The values we carry are about honesty, openness and working together. Hence, each team member is valued. We have now begun the search again for a replacement foster couple, and are doing this with renewed energy, drawn from our team unity.
Back in November last year, we found our second foster couple. We had interviewed them, and even transitioned them into the new foster home. It was a big step towards placing more children in loving foster families. Our expectation was that within a few months of them arriving in the newly prepared home, we would begin placing such children but, then the coronavirus pandemic hit and all our plans went on hold. During the past few months, I have visited this couple to check in on them and make sure they are surviving during the semi-lockdown. During the course of these visits, an issue was raised, which led to us discovering that the husband has got a long-term sickness. It severely hampers his ability to be a foster dad and whilst we have provided medical support for him to get to the bottom of what is going on, it is clear that he can't continue in the role. Tutela is commited to providing a mum AND dad for the foster children, and as such, we are back to the drawing board in search of our second foster couple.
It has been three months since the children were able to attend school. We have waited to see whether the government will open schools again, but it is becoming clear that it won't happen any time soon. Hence, we have found a great young lady, Judite, who is a teacher at a private school in Maputo. She has agreed to provide three mornings per week to educate and boost our foster children. This pandemic may stay for a good while longer and it is possible that these kids will miss a whole year of school, which could have a devastating impact on their future. With Judite's help we hope to keep the children fresh and connected with learning. Big thanks to a generous Maputo resident who has agreed to fund the first ten weeks of tutoring sessions.
Some good news during these turbulent times... Yesterday we placed a sixth child with foster mum! He is a young lad in the white shirt, with a severely neglected background. The girl in the middle is his older cousin who has been raising him and two other children on zero income for many years. She cried tears of relief yesterday to finally have the support she's been so desperate for. We will keep in contact with the cousin during the coming months. Foster mum now has three boys and three girls. That's a decent handful!
We have been investigating a case of a young boy, Roberto (name changed), who is in a very vulnerable situation. His mum had died a couple of years ago and his dad is an alcoholic who had rejected his son. The boy was sleeping in an abandoned church for many months and was finally reunited with his uncle, who has been able to offer him a roof over his head and place at school. Roberto is in 6th grade. At Tutela, we wanted to encourage this family reunification and empower the uncle to keep up the care of his nephew. Our community worker, Ivonne (blue tshirt) visited Roberto at school to give him new school uniform, a rucksack and some school books. Not only was Roberto grateful, but his teacher (in the white lab-coat), head teacher, and community leader were all super keen to express their thanks. We will be checking in on Roberto and keeping in touch with his uncle during this year and beyond.
In Mozambique, there is a piece of cloth called a Capulana (Cap-ooo-laana), which has a very colourful pattern, and is a light wearing material. Mozambican woman always carry one around with them, either folded into their handbag or they wear it as a skirt, in the same way as wrapping a towel around your waist. There's a lot of symbolism to a Capulana - its such a versatile piece of material. It can be used as a blanket to sit on when you are waiting in the shade to meet someone. It can also be used to carry a baby on your back. It can be a table cloth and a hundred more things. And if given to a semstress, it can be transformed into a stunning shirt, blouse or dress. Below is a picture of Becky being given a Capulana by the Tutela foster family at our New Years lunch. This was gift was a symbol of respect and honour between women.
Our wonderful team of Brits are now back on home soil, having left behind the sunny warm breeze and blue shores of Maputo for more harsh and severe weather in England.
In September, we wrote a brief news post about a shortage of ARV medicines in Mozambique. This has affected children who we are linked with and hence have been keen to see how the public health system has responded. In the past few weeks, children and adults who depend on these medicines have now started a new course of medicine to control their immunity. Different tablets with new ingredients are being distributed along with new dosages. We are monitoring our children to see how they respond to the new medicines, and are expecting it to take a while for their bodies to adjust.
It was a fitting opportunity to welcome our second foster couple, Rora and Alex, into their new foster home whilst our team of Brits were present. It was a very special morning and is the culmination of some months of work - orientating our new couple, getting the home fully ready and supporting their transition into a new neighbourhood.
In honor of the moment, we purchased two rose plants. A rose is a typcially english flower, which also copes well in Mozambican climates. We planted one rose in each foster home as a symbol of working together between two nations and to allow this work of foster care to flourish into something of colour and beauty.
One member of our visiting team of Brits is an experienced foster care trainer. Ruth has worked for over 30 years as a Social Worker in the UK and has plenty of experience to share with Tutela's foster mums and assistants.
They have spent two sessions together during the past few days, talking about the challenges of raising children who have faced trauma. Whilst the sessions were running the other Brits - Bob, Phil and Denise - were plugging away with some fantastic jobs such as fixing electrics and setting up a clothing room.
This has been a plan in the making for a couple of years. Our dear friend Bob, from Aid International in England, originally suggested bringing some Tutela supporters to visit Mozambique and see first hand what we are doing. After many months of planning and preparing, the team of four arrived yesterday to spend just over a week with us. Today, we hosted them for a big team lunch under the shade of a huge mango tree. It was really special to welcome them and see two nations coming together, for the sake of foster children in Maputo.
One of our team got married last weekend - Helder, our driver and run-around-fix-it guy. He married his longterm partner Ana, pictured above. The Wakely family joined their wedding celebrations, which were a mammoth event, spanning two days starting early saturday at 8am and concluding late sunday afternoon. We witnessed the formalities of the registry office in Maputo's official wedding venue, plus the fervor and passion of the church ceremony in the heat of the day, and the dinner reception with a delicious display of Mozambican cuisine. This wedding was a dream come true for Helder and Ana and was no small endeavour to pull together. Many Mozambican couples cannot afford a wedding and choose to live together without officially tying the knot. This isn't so much because marriage isn't valued here, but more because the cultural expectations of such an event are too much of a burden on small incomes. Hence, what this couple have achieved at a young age, is very admirable.
It was such a joy to celebrate this moment in Helder's life and see him tie the knot with Ana. The weekend was a welcome lift to what has been a heavy few months at Tutela. Helder has been with us for almost a year and we are so glad of his contribution. May he and Ana have many happy years together.
We discovered recently that there is a shortage of HIV medication throughout the whole of Mozambique. Hospitals and clinics have not received their usual supply of Anti-retro Viral tablets from the Ministry of Health and are unable to distribute the vital medication that thousands in Mozambique rely on to maintain a healthy immune system.
According to a news article from neighbouring South Africa, there is a global shortage of an essential ingredient that forms part of the most common form of ARVs.
All children in Mozambique and even globally who rely on these medicines are at risk from a reduced immunity and the increased possibility for diseases to affect them more severly. At Tutela we are doing what we can to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, with good habits of hygiene and self-care.
Lots of work has gone in to preparing our second foster home and we are getting close to being ready. Over the past four months, the Tutela team have furnished the home, sourced outstanding furnishings and we've interviewed potential foster couples. It is a very involved process and requires careful planning and preparation.
Last week Tutela hosted a fundraiser for our loyal supporters and new donors in Bath, England. We provided a Mozambican cuisine and showed a video of our work over the past year. It was a fun and lively affair with 60 friends, some delicious food and an atmosphere of authentic support for the foster homes in Mozambique. The photos don't do justice to a memorable evening!
The month of May has been one of the lowest points of my 12 years in Mozambique (Jonny writing). When I got back from my trip to Cape Town, I discovered that Manuel, our Social Worker was struggling with ongoing headaches. He thus took time off work to visit the doctor and diagnose the problem. Doctor was unable to get a diagnosis and Manuel's health subsequently went downhill. Manuel eventually was admitted to the public hospital in Maputo where they discovered through an MRI that he had brain inflammation caused by a virus. Meds were immediately prescribed but he did not turn a corner. After two weeks in the intensive care ward he passed away. I am gutted and still processing what has happened. The Tutela team are also in shock as we come to terms with his passing. The family held a funeral last thursday and there were hundreds in attendance. What we didn't realise is that Manuel was well-loved and regarded amongst many communities in Maputo, not just at Tutela. He was only 33 years old, not married and no kids. We are extremely blessed at Tutela to have known him and had his company for the past 15 months. We now have to say goodbye in the proper way and then rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign. (Photo - beach trip last year - Manuel is the young man in the middle).
Last week I was in Cape Town to visit our friends and partners at Home from Home. Cape Town is a two day drive from Maputo, so better to catch a plane. I caught the 11am flight from Maputo and was in Cape Town in time for dinner. During the week, I took part in the annual gathering for all associates of Home from Home; those who are using their model of care to create family-like homes. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos during the visit, hence here is a borrowed photo of the Home from Home team, taken off their website. The trip was hugely encouraging and made me feel more connected with like-minded people.
In my (Jonny) hands, I am now holding a piece of paper from the Mozambican government that declares that Tutela can operate in it's own right, here in Maputo. It's been a year and four months since we submitted an application and some more experienced friends told us we would need to be patient. They were right. So it's with great relief that we received the news today. Another milestone reached on this Tutela journey!
New uniforms, new school places and a new start for Seb and Rida's kids. Here in Mozambique the school year starts in February and the kids are very excited about going to school. We have two children starting school for the first time! A sense of anticipation in the air...
We have just placed our fifth child with foster mum - a beautiful girl, Joana, with sadly a troubled past. Manuel, our social worker worked tirelessly to understand Joana's situation and what she was going through. The stories we discover are always emotionally challenging to unravel, and our hearts go out to both the child who is vulnerable and the family who are in a broken way. Sometimes it just isn't possible to keep a child with their family, if the situation is serious enough. Which, in Joana's case it was.
Rida and the current foster kids gave Joana a warm welcome, which was lovely to see.
This week we all got together as a team along with foster mum and family to celebrate all that's happened during the year. It was also a christmas celebration together. Barbecued chicken with salads in true Mozambican fashion - yum! Not to forget some crazy hat-wear...
Our friends Tessa and Kumbe are providing art classes for our kids during the school break. Summer holidays in Mozambique are almost three months long! Hence foster mum needs a bit of respite whenever possible.
Today Dino was placed with us. The lady next to him in the photo is his an indirect family relation. Dino's story during his young life was one of being passed between various homes and children's centres, with no-one willing to provide a stable, safe place to settle. Having done a full investigation of Dino's situation, Tutela is excited to place him with foster mum Rida. Mum has given him a warm welcome into the home and has got up to speed with his health status. We're looking forward to seeing how he adjusts to his new life.
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