BY EMMA STONEHOUSE
CRANE, our partner network in Uganda, has a vision for all children: that they would live in the care of safe and secure families.
For the 50,000 children who live in 800 orphanages, and the 10-15,000 children on the streets in Uganda, this means finding families who will give them supportive, long-term homes.
It is common for children in Uganda who enter institutional care to not leave there for most of their adolescence; largely due to the slow and challenging processes involved in and locating families.
However, CRANE, our partner network in Uganda believes that all children belong in the security of families, and not institutions, so that they are given opportunities to develop their God-given gifts and talents in a safe environment.
CRANE believes that the Church in Uganda provides the best solution to help families stay together, and for finding families for orphaned and vulnerable children.
Since 2018, CRANE and Viva have worked together to establish an interdenominational working partnership between five large and diverse Church denominations in Uganda.
A pilot project has been set up for changing children’s ministry across their denominations. This has included putting a greater emphasis on finding families for children within Child Care Institutions (CCIs), training foster families, and making churches safer places for children.
One of the key events used to mobilise the Church across the interdenominational partnership is Adoption Sunday.
This is a Sunday service dedicated to spreading the message and stories of children in institutional care, and challenging congregations on how they can be supporting those most vulnerable in their communities.
The commitments made range from praying and giving one-off donations, to committing to spending regular time with vulnerable children to fostering or providing respite for families who adopt and foster.
In the most recent Adoption Sunday over 30 churches participated. Through the services the churches collected material items to share with vulnerable families and those currently fostering in their communities.
The churches also challenged their congregation to consider fostering and adoption, Here is one testimony of God’s faithfulness:
Dembe attended the Adoption Sunday service, where she was challenged and made more aware of foster caring and the challenges facing children who don’t have stable homes. Now Dembe is a foster carer to Doreen, a 13-year-old girl, who was living with her elderly grandmother but she could not adequately care for her due to her old age and low energy. Now Doreen has a permanent foster home with Dembe!
CRANE also recognises that finding families for children is a difficult and lengthy process. The network provides vital support to the CCIs within the network, providing temporary care to vulnerable children and working to reunite and find families for them.
CRANE offers vital training for the social workers in the CCIs, helping them to grow in their care for the children and walking alongside them as they continue to place children in families.
The network has trained 58 social workers from 25 CCIs over last year, giving them practical tools and guidance in their care for vulnerable children.
In one of the homes in the network, five children – for whom all efforts to trace family members had previously failed – were given short-term foster care.
When other children in the home were being resettled, these children were given foster care during the holidays.
A social worker from the home spoke at various gatherings, and five families from one church were found, assessed and trained to be foster carers by the network.
These families are now seriously considering fostering these children on a more permanent basis, hoping to give them permanent homes. We give thanks for this and hope for more opportunities like this to help more children more effectively in future.
Please join with CRANE, our partner network, and the Church in Uganda, in prayer:
- Please pray for the children currently without a safe family in institutional homes. Pray that families would be found for each of them. Pray that they would have safe places to play learn and grow, given opportunities to develop their God-given gifts and talents, and that through the church would know Jesus in their lives.
- Pray for the Church in Uganda, that families would be found to take in children with love and care.
- Pray for the continuing work of the interdenominational group, that the success seen so far would continue in their work of mobilising churches for vulnerable children in their communities.