(Posted by Jane)
I started working at Child Restoration Outreach (CRO) a month ago, and it’s taken that long to piece together all that CRO does, or seeks to do. The vision is vast; not in such a way that leaves CRO ineffective or thinly spread, but in a way that is responsive, holistic and realistic. CRO Jinja is a small indigenous charity that aims to resettle and educate street children in Jinja. It is one of many wonderful non-profits seeking to reach the most vulnerable children in our community, and shares a very similar model with some; a model that is innovative and has proven to be effective.
CRO has no residential program as it recognises that being on the street does not necessarily mean that children are totally without family or community. The solution it not giving them a home at CRO, but a safe place to come, to clean up, eat a good meal, talk with staff, and receive a basic education while social workers trace their extended families and work to bring reconciliation and ultimately resettle the children in their communities. Many of the children’s families cannot afford school fees, so CRO partners with them, not taking the responsibility away from the care-givers but empowering them to find ways of saving through small businesses, made possible by their community Self Help Groups (microfinance groups).
The whole process starts with the child’s own will. They are invited to the CRO centre by social workers during their day and night walks around town, but the child must choose to turn up at the centre on a daily basis if they want their situation to change. I love this model that CRO and similar organisations in Jinja are seeking to implement; empowering children and families to seek and actualise a better future.
At present, CRO Jinja is being impressively resourceful with very little funding and income. Somehow they enable a little to go a long way, and even in a season when money is sparse they still manage to keep many of their programmes running; and yet the reality is that some of CRO’s projects have had to fall by the wayside. I am working alongside CRO staff to secure funding to get these projects, revised and with new energy, back up and running.