Families reformed


Clara Hodge reports on the impact of the family reintegration programme in Uganda during the last two years and shares the story of a boy helped out of rubbish bins to get back home again.

No child should have to grow up alone. Together Viva and our partner network CRANE are working to see that every child has a safe home with a loving family.

For many years, there has been a belief that families trapped in poverty are better off sending their children to institutions. Yet, children need so much more than the necessities of care, which these organisations often prioritise. Every child deserves the unconditional love of a stable family.

Over the last two years, CRANE has succeeded in transitioning 306 children from Child Care Institutions (CCIs) to the homes of relatives or foster carers.

As a result of training and sustained awareness-raising from the network, all of the 19 CCIs who completed the programme have evolved from places of long-term care to transit centres temporarily housing children whilst the relocate families or search for longer-term foster care.

The organisations involved have taken ownership of this cause, adopting its mission as their own. Inspiringly, they have continued to implement the process independently and have achieved the reintegration of a further 584 children.

Overall, through CRANE’s influence, 890 children have had the opportunity to grow up in a safe and stable home in the last two years alone. 

This amazing success would not be possible without growing support in the wider community.

Whilst the programme originally focused on CCIs, an understanding of the importance of family-based care has filtered across CRANE’s network of 140 organisations.

As the message of family-based care takes root, churches and Christian ministries are mobilising to keep their children safe.

Over 120 pastors attended a two-day ‘embrace the child’ conference in May 2016, inspiring the formation of 41 new Family Protection Committees.

CRANE has also facilitated the establishment of five radio talk shows and one TV show in order to keep the community informed and aware of the difficulties that children face.

This growing awareness is furthered by the rising legal commitments of the authorities. The network has been working hard to develop relationships with the police, probation and social welfare officers and has succeeded in agreeing the procedures and training of 182 local police and CCI social workers based in Kampala.

Due to these improved relations, full assessments are now conducted when children are admitted to CCIS and reintegration processes are automatically begun if stable families are found. The fact that over 95% of children have successfully returned demonstrates how important it is to focus on supporting families, rather than keeping them apart.

Ate went to live with his dad and stepmother at the age of nine. As his father could not afford his school fees Ate saved the $2 needed through his own small business of selling boiled eggs. However, as he was already earning money, his father asked him to leave his home and start his own life. Ate decided to use his small savings to travel to Kampala and look for work.

Life became drastically harder as he slept outside, ate food from rubbish bins and looked for old scraps of metal to sell.

To reassure himself he began to mimic musicians like Bob Wine and Chris Brown, until one of his friends encouraged him to write his own music.

Ate realised he had a lot to talk about and decided to write about his life on the streets. His first song was entitled ‘Never give up’, which talked about the challenges he has met and how he overcame them.

Ate started attending a drop-in centre, which referred him to CRANE so that he could record his songs. CRANE traced his family and Ate is now resettled back home, studying mechanics and continuing to express himself through music.


Clara Hodge is a 2nd year history student at Durham University and spent some time volunteering with Viva earlier this year.