For the last three years (2015-2018), FAmily REsilience Project (FARE) prevented separation and re-separation of children from their families in Kampala and in Wakiso Districts in Uganda. Supported by the USAID-funded ASPIRES project led by the nonprofit human development organization FHI360, AVSI, together with Retrak, Companionship of Works Association (COWA) and Fruits of Charity Foundation (FCF), was able to help 650 households, including 350 families deemed to be at high risk of child–family separation and 300 children already living outside of family care.
Shafick Lukwago story
At night, lying in bed, Shafick Lukwago couldn’t sleep. He was kept awake by the memories of his behavior. “I would spend my days disturbing people, abusing my friends; I wouldn’t find peace with my father,” recalls Shafick, who, instead of going to school, would wander around with a group of children taking drugs. One day, Shafick’s friends dared him to open one of his neighbors’ padlocks and steal money. Afraid of his father’s reaction, he ran away from home and lived on the streets until he learned about AVSI’s FARE Project.
FARE was conceived on the theory of change that considered that if families were provided a combination of economic and family strengthening interventions, the drivers of child family separation would be reduced; families would become more resilient to shocks and would be able to foster a healthy environment for children to remain in family care.
After a pre-screening, AVSI prioritized the most vulnerable households and identified separated children who were abandoned, lost, abused, and neglected. Later, families were given cash to sustain their needs and trained on savings, not only on an individual level but also in the community environment through the Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLA). The project also offered parenting skills training together with interactive learning lessons for children and youth.
Despite several challenges such as households being geographically dispersed, mobile populations, and limited time, the FARE project largely reached its goals. FARE supported families assessed to be high at risk of child–family separation to stay together, with only 5% of families within the project experiencing separation with the child, whereas 93% of reintegrated children remained in family care for at least a year. In general, families improved their overall vulnerability score by at least 25%, including on areas such as economic, food security and nutrition, health, water, sanitation and shelter, education, child protection and legal areas.
Project participants were supported to join savings groups and succeeded in increasing their savings exponentially. Some were even able to increase household income.
“I’m happy to be part of VSLA because it enabled me to work on my image; I’m now respected in the community unlike before, due to my appearance,” says Grace, a FARE participant.
Another great achievement was the improvement in parent-child relations among both Reintegration caregivers and Prevention caregivers and children. For example, the Tweyambe VSLA group confirmed this accomplishment:
VSLAs gave women the opportunity to get income and start up their own thereby increasing their ability to care for their children. There is more happiness in homes due to a reduction in the number of domestic violence cases reported daily at this office