Mozambique has 21.8 million inhabitants, of which over half live in poverty. Although Mozambique is one of few African countries with a constitution that recognizes the right to food, malnutrition is the single largest health problem among the nation's children. There are 1.4 million people aged 15-49 who are infected with HIV, and 670,000 children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
In 1987 the first SOS Children's Village was founded to provide an alternative for children orphaned by the civil war. Today, SOS Children's Villages runs six children's villages, three youth programs, four kindergartens, four elementary schools, one training centre for SOS mothers and other staff, as well as seven social centres in the country.
ReInnovation is an approach where necessary maintenance and repair of a children’s village is used as an opportunity to improve and innovate the care and support provided through the village, and better promote development of the surrounding community. The idea is that we go beyond the requirements of physical repair, and review new ways to approach the situation of children in our target group more adequately. It also aims to promote community development in terms of social change. The key components of ReInnovation projects are that all projects must be socially, environmentally and financially sustainable. The ReInnovation program mainly aims to:
In 2013 the village infrastructure had deteriorated and a renovation was needed. Electricity, water supply and septic tanks were not functioning as they should and there was significant wear and tear on the interiors, including crucial equipment such as mosquito nets. In connection with this it was decided to make an overall evaluation of the set-up of the village and the standard of care, to make it more in line with our program policy and the innovative approach promoted there. The ReInnovation project in Inhambane aimed to integrate the families in the surrounding community to avoid social exclusion, and provide the families with simple but high-quality housing with local components. The result was a ReInnovation plan with the following objectives:
Subgoal 1: 15 families integrated and well-cared-for in the surrounding communities
The houses are clustered in three areas, Chamane (5 houses), Muele (6 houses) and Malembuane (4 houses). See table 1 and figure 1 below how the houses are distributed in the areas.
In the preparation phase, a risk analysis and mitigation for the program was done. A family situation analysis was conducted with each family to give them appropriate and individual support, taking the interest of the children into consideration. The families have been aware of the process and went through training and sensitization to facilitate a smooth integration into the new communities.
There has also been a reintegration process where we have assessed the possibility to reunite some children with their biological family. Initially we did a stakeholder analysis and mapping to guarantee support to the children and their biological family. During this stakeholder analysis, children and their biological families were identified for a possible reunion. Together with the children an informed decision was made for 8 children to return to their original family during 2017 – 4 girls and 4 boys. Another 26 children are planned to be reintegrated with their biological family during 2018. However, this is a process that may take time since the decisions require careful consideration. The biological families might need additional support to reunite with their children.
The SOS Children’s Village team in Inhambane have worked in close cooperation with the community based organisation and the community’s village leaders to ensure that the families would be welcomed and supported through the community as any other family. The term community based organisation (CBO) refers to a democratic group of people aiming to improve social wellbeing of individuals, groups and neighbourhoods. CBOs also aim for sustainable social change. Each CBO has a village leader and is defined by geographical location. These organisations have been key stakeholders for SOS Children’s Villages to ensure a good integration. The village leaders have been very positive to the families moving into the community. SOS Children’s Villages also has family strengthening programs in the communities that support families of origin and community based organisations. This way the organisation supports the whole community and not only the SOS families. As part of the integration work, the community based organisations received training on SOS Children’s Villages program policy to guarantee their support to the children and families of SOS.
The government has also been very supportive throughout the process of integrating the families. The District department of health has committed to support and regularly visit the SOS families.
Subgoal 2: Improved quality of houses in terms of comfort, security and protection to children as per SOS Children’s Villages standards
Due to a shortage of high quality contractors in Mozambique, the houses were built by a contractor from South Africa with high quality and according to local standards. The qualified contractor (AMOYA) was recruited and the construction process in the 8 plots started in June 2016 and was completed in November 2017 when the families moved in. Material and furniture for the houses are from Mozambique and in cases where good quality material or furniture was not available in Mozambique, suppliers in neighbouring South Africa were used. The design of the houses has been adapted to the local context and is composed of 6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sitting area and a kitchen as per SOS Children’s Villages standards. The houses are fitted with new and comfortable furniture as well as all household items. All the houses have a spare water tank for rainwater harvesting. The water is mainly used for gardening and cleaning. Each family has their own garden where they grow local food, this is a great way for the children to learn about agriculture. For added security, the doors and windows of the houses will be fitted with burglar bars, and outdoor lights will be installed.
A plan for maintenance of the new houses was handed over by the contractor and both the mothers and the caretaker were trained to keep the houses intact. The children were also sensitized to how to keep the houses clean. The mothers and aunts were also trained in First Aid as well as management of fire extinguishers. All the houses have been fitted with fire extinguishers. First Aid kits are not yet placed in the houses, but there is already a purchase order in process.
Subgoal 3: Enhanced autonomy of the mothers to provide quality care and protection to children within the new child care system in the community according to the SOS model
Subgoal 4: Increased number of youths who achieve self-reliance for successful integration in the community
Subgoal 5: Improved performance and access to quality education for children and youths as a foundation for their future
The children and caregivers have only expressed positive stories since the integration into the community. The children emphasized that they have found new friends in the community, that they feel that they are part of the community in a way that they earlier did not feel and that they love the new house standards. They feel free in a way they didn’t feel before. They are also very happy that their houses are very beautiful.
The caregivers express that they feel that their family autonomy has improved and that they feel more part of the community in their new environment.
Elisa is living in her new-built family house and she is very excited to be living in a new house in the community with her SOS mother and the rest of her family members. She says:
‘’I’m very happy that I now live in a newly built house with my family – the first day we started to live here it was difficult for me to believe that this house belonged to us because I had never lived in such beautiful house equipped with all new things. My new house is more spacious than the old one in the village. It also has new furniture especially the sofa I often sit to watch my favourite cartoons and movies on TV in my spare time.
In my new house we don’t share the same toilets like in the old house; the house has two toilets one for boys and another for girls. I’m proud that everything in our house is new, including the bed I sleep in and it’s very comfortable. I have made some friends; my favourite friend is Victoria because she is a serious girl and often supports me when I struggle with school.’’
The project has faced several challenges during the project period which has resulted in some delays. During the planning phase, it was identified that the current village was in worse condition than anticipated. This resulted in efforts to solve the most critical emergency repairs and construction of the current houses. The focus during this time was to make the environment safe for the children and the caregivers, and the planning of the integration was paused. However, the management team in Mozambique used this emergency situation as an opportunity to integrate two families in the community while repairs were made in the village. This trial integration gave us indications on what worked and what we needed to change before integrating all families.
During the project process, we also faced some unanticipated challenges in securing land. Prior to this project, SOS Children’s Villages in Mozambique has never bought any land, it has historically been given to the organisation by the government. This means that initially there was a lack of understanding how complicated it is to buy land in Mozambique, and sufficient time was not allocated to this process in the planning phase. In order to handle this challenge, we hired an external Program Director who had experience in construction and in securing land in Inhambane.
As a result of an internal audit conducted by the SOS Children’s Villages regional office, parts of the top management team in Mozambique were replaced during the beginning of the project. This influenced the project as there was a short period of instability in the organisation in Mozambique.
At the end of the project, the Inhambane region was hit by Cyclone Dineo on 15th and 16th February 2017. The cyclone left a trail of destruction in its path leaving families and children without shelter, water and protection. The cyclone destroyed five family houses at the current village and made parts of the village unliveable. SOS Children’s Villages evacuated 70 children and caregivers to Maputo to assess the situation. Thanks to the strong and solid foundation of the buildings, the construction of the houses was not affected by the cyclone. There were however some delays due to the destruction the cyclone left which also affected the transportation and access to the area.
The inauguration was held on 20th February 2017 in Inhambane. The inauguration was a success and we had representation from the government opening the houses. The inauguration was opened with a speech by a youth in the village who expressed the improvements they experience and their gratitude to the donors who made this happen. This speech was followed by the government representatives who expressed their gratitude to SOS Children’s Villages and their donors who made this integrated village a reality. During the ceremony we experienced dancing, singing and theatre by children and singing from the mothers.
Thank you very much for supporting SOS Children’s Villages and making this project a reality.
Thanks to your support, 138 children now enjoy a well-integrated life with a good standard of living. Through this project you have also contributed to the development of the surrounding community.