Jonny and Becky's Story

"Tutela has taken shape out of our life journey"


“During our gap year to Mozambique in 2005, we had no idea of the journey we were embarking on or where it would lead to.

For us, the Tutela vision was born whilst on this journey - almost ten years on from this first visit. It is an expression of what we have discovered along the way and is shaped by both our research and our experiences of this time."

Why Mozambique?

At Iris Ministries, we supported and provided for a dormitory of 9-12 year old boys

“Having graduated from university in Bath, we immediately got married in 2002, 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-carers 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.

We decided that a gap year would be a welcome adventure for both of us, something that would draw us out of a sheltered, cozy life and open our eyes to some of the challenges that the world is facing. It would also be 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 and hence, we ventured to Mozambique in the summer of 2005 to support Heidi Baker's work with the street children.“

Orphanages are not like families!

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

Zimpeto Children's Centre is a lively, chaotic home to over 250 children. We had intended to volunteer for one year, but once we got involved, we could see a purpose to our work. A one-off gap year actually turned into seven years of ongoing voluntary work and we fulfilled multiple roles; Jonny became the finance director and Becky delivered various key admin duties. 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.

In tandem with our voluntary work, we decided to start a family and after one year in Mozambique, Gracie our eldest, was born.

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."

Why Tutela?

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

"Our experience at the Zimpeto Children's Centre, made us more 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 explore further the idea of family-based care. One thing was clear - we knew Mozambique needed new forms of child-care, that were not institutionalised. And we also knew that the solution needed to be appropriate for the context of Southern Africa, particularly Mozambique.

In 2012, 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 Home from Home 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.

The connection with Cape Town, along with our most loyal and generous supporters in 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. Then in June 2018, we launched our first foster home on the outskirts of Maputo.

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

Last Updated: 07 August 2019

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