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Research shows that children who grow up in orphanages are harmed in numerous ways. They are more susceptible to violence, abuse and exploitation, and their physical, intellectual and psychological development is delayed. At the Coast of Kenya, Kesho Kenya is an implementing partner in the Changing The Way We Care (CTWWC) initiative which seeks to educate and advocate for Family Based Care. Rose is one of our beneficiaries.

Rose is 12 years old and from a family of 5 children. She is a total orphan and was left in the care of her grandmother. Her family which still has other children to take care of, placed her in an orphanage. She has been staying in  Mother’s Vision Children’s Home since 2015. Her family hoped she would be able to access better nutrition and education for her to finish her studies.

Assessments to identify needs

COVID 19 saw many Charitable Children Institutions (CCIs) close down and children sent home. Rose was among the children who were released from the CCI and went back to her grandparents’ home. CRS through the Local Implementing Partner Kesho Kenya has been supporting Rose and her family for the past weeks. The Kesho Kenya social worker conducted child, family and community assessments to identify what support Rose and her family may need and the services that are available or are needed within the community.

Cash transfer, household items and personal items

CRS provided Rose’s parents a cash transfer to cater for critical household needs combined with livelihood training to improve their home and living conditions through income generating activities. The care givers also received cash transfer which they used to purchase food for the household as well as panties, sanitary towels, body oil and a pair of shoes for Rose. The rest of the money was used to boost their fire wood business so as to increase the daily family income.

The family also plans to start Chicken rearing business, and they already have some chicken to start with. They asked for assistance in building a store for their firewood and a chicken coop. Rose was also signed up in the National Health Insurance fund (NHIF) for medical support that will also benefit her grandparents and their child who is under the age of 18.

From distressed to cheerful

The caregivers reported to have noted a great improvement on Rose.  At the start, she was very distressed returning back home from the CCI, She sat alone, lost in her own thoughts, and refuse to mingle with other children in the household. The teacher was called in several times to counsel her but she did not respond or get better. The care giver noted that when we started engaging her, coming for follow up visits, giving cash to the family and a dignity pack to her, she lit up and became cheerful. She said that if the economic status of the family can change by being supported to achieve economic empowerment, she will not go back to the CCI.

Changing The Way We Care is working with the government, civil society, and other non-governmental organizations in Kenya to begin the process of changing the culture of orphanages throughout the country. Changing the Way We Care promotes safe, nurturing family care for children reintegrating from residential institutions and prevents child-family separation by strengthening families, reforming national systems of care for children, and working with others to shift commitments and conversations in support of family care.