Jonny and Becky's Story

"Tutela has taken shape out of our life journey"


“During our first visit to Mozambique in 2004, we had no idea of the journey we were embarking on or where it would lead to.

For us, the Tutela project was born as a result of this journey - ten years on from this first visit. It is an expression of what we have discovered along the way and is shaped by many of our experiences over this time."

Part 1 - Why Mozambique

The first connection with Mozambique

“We got married in 2002 in Bath, England; rented a cozy flat in a middleclass suburb and held down some fairly average post-grad jobs. To add some spice to our lives, we signed up with the local Social Services department to offer respite to foster-parents for children in care. Holidays and day trips with these children were a big part of our calendar year.

We first heard about Mozambique while listening to a dynamic and infectious talk by an American lady, Heidi Baker, at a weekend church gathering in Kent. She told stories of her work in this fragile African nation, reaching out to some of the most marginalised people, those who made their living by scavenging from Maputo city's refuse site. She also shared about her work with street children. We were inspired by her willingness to engage with such difficult situations in a context of extreme poverty. Having already travelled to similar scenarios of poverty ourselves, Heidi's talk re-ignited a desire in both of us travel again, and specifically to visit her work in Mozambique.

Witnessing some of the challenges that the world is facing

During Easter 2004 we made a two week visit. It was a memorable trip and if nothing else, the visit drew us out of a sheltered life and opened our eyes to some of the challenges that the world is facing. After the trip, we decided that a gap-year would be a welcome adventure for both of us - an opportunity to explore new things as a couple and do something more rewarding with our skills. Combining travel to a new country alongside working with neglected children was the ideal duo. Hence, we returned to Mozambique in the summer of 2005 to support Heidi Baker's work with the street children. 

We supported and provided for a dormitory of 9-12 year old boys

Zimpeto Children's Centre is a lively, chaotic home to over 250 children. We had only intended to volunteer for one year, but once we got involved, we found it hard to leave. A one-off gap year actually turned into seven years of ongoing voluntary work. During our time there, we fulfilled multiple roles; Jonny became the finance director and Becky delivered various key admin duties. However, one of the most memorable things we did was oversee the running of a dormitory of 30 boys, aged 9 - 12yrs. It was a hugely rewarding experience in the sense that we were able to provide many practical improvements to the children's lives.

The contrast of raising a family whilst living at the Orphanage

In tandem with our voluntary work, we decided to start a family and after one year in Mozambique, Gracie our eldest, was born. It was shortly after this, that we were hit with a conundrum:

“Is it time to think about settling down in England to pursue a career, family and house? Or do we carry on with our lives in Mozambique?"

It was a tough one to answer, but in the end our desire to help vulnerable children compelled us; hence we jumped with both feet (and a baby) into our voluntary work.

Our daughters were as much involved with the dormitory work as we were

Raising a family whilst working at the Children’s Centre gave a clear insight into what abandoned children don’t have when they grow up in an institution. Whilst we were proud of the way that the Centre was able to rescue children who were on death’s door, we could see countless more children who had lost touch with the safety and security of a family home. Raising our daughters Gracie and Honor was a stark contrast to the way children who lived in the dormitories were raised."

Part 2 - Why start Tutela

Family-based care is needed in Mozambique

"The longer we lived at Zimpeto Children's Centre, the more we questioned what we were doing and whether we were being effective in this environment. We began to envisage a form of care that was beyond the orphanage model, and began to consider the idea of providing family based care for abandoned children in Mozambique. Could this be possible in such a poor country where the need is so overwhelming?

We kept pondering and soon felt a real conviction to do something. We weren't sure what to do, but we were convinced that the idea of family is a core part of who we are as human beings. We hated the thought that some children have to grow up without a loving family around them. This conviction led us to search around Maputo for various projects and NGOs who were offering some form of foster-care, but at the time we couldn't find anything.

By 2012, we knew that our time at the Children's Centre was coming to a close, and knew we needed to explore further the idea of family-based care. Hence, we said goodbye to the precious community that we had spent seven years living with and launched into unknown territory. 

Starting out from scratch

One thing was clear - we knew Mozambique needed new forms of child-care, that were not institutionalised. Aside from this we also knew that the solution needed to be appropriate for the context of Southern Africa, particularly Mozambique. Not long after leaving the Children's Centre, we were introduced to a Child Protection Agency, Home from Home, in Cape Town, South Africa who had opened numerous foster homes in the townships there.  A friendship started with them that involved a number of visits to see their work and to learn about their model of care. We were inspired and felt we had found an approach to family-based care that could flourish in Maputo.

Launching out on our own was daunting, hence this connection in Cape Town, along with our most loyal and generous supporters in Bath, England, enabled us to pursue our plans with determination. In 2014 we launched Tutela as a registered non-profit charity in England, with the main purpose of creating foster-care in Mozambique. 

Our Tutela Launch event included an auction, a visit from the local newspaper and children's craft activities

Laying good foundations

Since then, we have been based in Maputo, Mozambique, laying the ground work for a successful and well prepared network of foster-homes. After a number of years of preparations, we launched our first foster home on the outskirts of Maputo in June 2018. In partnership with Home from Home plus drawing on the experience of the wonderful community of Zimpeto Children's Centre, we have been able to get things off the ground.

Now comes the exciting part; offering a quality family experience to those children who have been abandoned and who are severely vulnerable."

Last Updated: 22 August 2018

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