One of the most common contributors to the vulnerability of children around the world is separation from the love, care, and protection of their parents and families. Loss of parental care has many causes. Millions of children globally have already been separated or are at risk of being separated from their families due to poverty, diseases, disability, death, abuse, or any other cause.
Kwetu Home of Peace is one of the Charitable Care Institution (CCI) allied to AOSK-Catholic Care for Children in Kenya (AOSK-CCCK) that rescues, rehabilitates and re-integrates street connected boys back to their families. On 8th October 2021, Kwetu Home of Peace held a thanks-giving mass to celebrate the reintegration of 34 boys whose parents and guardians had came to pick them home after a process of rehabilitation at the Centre. The celebration brought together all the 34 boys who were being re-inserted to their families , the other boys still under rehabilitation, parents, guardians and invited guests.
Sr. Jane Rose Nyongesa, the director of Kwetu Home of Peace, in her opening remarks, invited the children, parents and guest to the thanksgiving celebration and noted, “Today we are gathered here to celebrate the 34 boys who have successfully finished rehabilitation and are being reintegrated back to their families. The journey began in 2018, when we rescued these boys from the street and committed ourselves to rehabilitate and reintegrate them. Today as an institution, we are happy that parents are here to take their children and continue nurturing them, loving and raising them up. The family is the most Important Institution in the children upbringing, and therefore it’s our joy, the boys are re-united back with their families.”
Mrs. Mary Anyango, a mother who was reunited with her son, Moses Otieno noted that, “As a mother it gives me joy and happiness to see my son after 5 years of separation, the reunification process today has given me a second chance to extend my motherly love and care towards Moses.” On his side Moses Otieno alluded, “During the few bonding times, we had with my mother, it feels excited when I have someone I can refer to as mother and the affection given by my mother which cannot be compared to anything else.”
Sr. Delvin Mukhwana (DHM) the Project Manager for AOSK-CCCK while giving her speech noted that, a scriptural basis for family care is bolstered by a strong academic evidence base, which consistently finds that children who are cared for by families are more likely to thrive than those in residential care. Residential cares are often promoted as more adequately providing material needs than some families’ do, without recognizing the vital social and emotional role that family relationships play in a child’s life. Regardless of the quality of care in residential settings, children often face isolation, loss of a sense of belonging, identity struggles, and difficulty-maintaining connections given the lengthy periods of separation from their families, therefore Sr. Delvin Mukhwana encouraged the parents to be the cornerstone of upbringing their children in a family set up.
It is high time for all of us to stand up for the care reforms for the children by promoting families values, positive parenting and family support so that children are not separated from their families because of basic needs that can be received from families, so that, the rest of the family is enhanced in remaining together, than taking children in orphanages and rescue centres for years being held hostage in the name of support. The Catholic social teaching urges that, parents be supported in their effort to raise well-formed, healthy children. AOSK-CCCK program is funded by GHR Foundation.