Supporting Child Headed Families

Children in child-headed families suffer extraordinary levels of depravation.  Having cared for their sick parents over long periods, they are often the primary carers as they die.   They are bereaved,  materially very poor, hungry, lacking in education, lacking in opportunities and vulnerable all kinds of child exploitation.

The CHF project aims to bring hope to these families by tackling these issues with a variety of approaches.  At the heart of the program are two caring social workers who monitor, guide and mentor the families.  The project funds their salaries and has provided them with motorcycles with enable regular visits to the 45 families in the program.

A grant

Each family receives an annual grant for the first two years of the program.  They work together with the social worker in deciding the families priorities.  Whether to fix a leaking roof , or buy a cow is a tricky decision and important work.  Children take hold of these budgets and some measure of control over their futures.  The accumulation of long term assets such as livestock helps to give the families a reference point that lifts their perspective beyond the daily grind to find food.

A safety net

There is safety net in the program in terms of food and medical care.  Food is provided to the families – not as much as we would wish and far less than would foster an unhealthy dependence on the program.  Under 12s get a protein supplement but chronic malnutrition is serious problem in these families.

The medical cover is perhaps the most essential component of the program.  The children are extraordinarily resourceful  but can go down hill rapidly if they become sick and are unable to work or forage for food.  Malaria is a significant threat and each child, will on average, get malaria once a year.  Many children have been treated successfully but one child has sadly died.

A future

The long term aim is to help the families to develop income generating schemes of their own.  This fosters independence and financial security.  Many of the families already have micro enterprises and we support these with loans, grants and business mentoring.  This involves painstaking work to shape the children’s ideas, help them plan a business and give them the confidence to step out and try something new.  We have supported 2 businesses in these families and many more are planned.

Statistics

Families                                45

Children                               170

Social workers                   2

Running Costs                   £8000 per year

Start ups                              2

Start ups planned            10 per year