It has been a while since I’ve written with a project update. Since our major grants from Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund came to an end, we have been working hard to evaluate our findings from these projects to improve our future work, whilst also continuing the constant struggle for funding. As old projects change and new projects begin, I will start to update you more frequently with what we are doing on the ground in Nepal.
One significant change is in our work with street children in response to new government legislation and past learning. Our original drop-in centre and night shelter has been replaced with a short-term rehabilitation centre and a midway home. As before, street-connected children will be referred to us by outreach workers, the police, other NGOs or their peers, but now they will be obliged to stay in the rehabilitation centre rather than come and go freely, as they were able to do previously.
On moving into the rehabilitation centre, a child’s situation will be assessed by qualified social workers and a rehabilitation plan will be developed in consultation with the child, with the aim of reintegrating them with their family or, if this is not a realistic option, into alternative care.
Our midway home is one of these alternative care options. It is effectively a group home where adolescents who are on the road to reintegration, for example in education, training or work, can adjust over a period of up to 18 months before they return to their families or move on to live independently.
Boys in both centres will be given access to education, healthcare, advice and counselling, as per our previous support model, and to financial education and services through our children’s development bank. We will also continue our very successful outreach work with families to improve their situations and enable reintegration as appropriate, together with the ongoing risk awareness and prevention work in local slums.
Through our work to date (see our Street Life film - https://youtu.be/90yJzh8NjeA), 69% of children in our programmes have been reintegrated with their families or independently. Based on this work, we believe that the rationale of the new legislation is sound – children are safer and more likely to successfully be rehabilitated if they are permanently off the street for a continued period. However, there is a risk that some children may resist being forced to stay in the centre, a situation that if not managed sensitively could lead to the criminalisation of street children and to clearing children off the streets using undue force, violence and effective imprisonment. We feel confident that any risk of this will be mitigated by our ongoing community outreach work and collaboration with the local Child Welfare Board, coupled with the increasingly effective local child protection systems that we have been instrumental in developing.
Because we want to avoid institutionalising children and give each child the individual support they need to move on as quickly as possible, we need to limit the number in each facility at any one time and therefore the refined model is more expensive per child. As always, we need your support and now is a great time to donate because the Global Giving Little by Little campaign will match fund 50% of donations up to $50. It starts at 2pm this today, Monday 3rd April. Just follow this link and donate. https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/night-shelter-drop-in-nepal-for-street-children/
Thank you for your continued support,