94 Home Visits
When we welcomed in 2019, the team members who serve in the Cherish Life Program were ready to slow down their pace, as we had spent the end of 2018 resettling our last 33 children back into a home. That was no small feat. Think countless of office hours, meetings with our children to hear their input, and then weeks of being on the road meeting with the families. The orphan crisis has been moving from deinstitutionalization into family based care, because Uganda has made it a law that children can only stay in an institution for 3 years. Thus, we knew and truthfully had already felt the need to get our children out of “children’s homes” and into homes with extended relatives or foster parents. (In some cases, we even resettle children back with a parent, because over 80% of the children living in orphanages in Uganda actually have at least one living parent.)
In early February 2019, I had the privilege to head to Cherish to launch into this new season with a new team (grew from 7 to 16) as we added new departments. Cherish Life Program (CLP) had always been about Case Coordinators working around children/families God had given Cherish, but now CLP emcompasses three areas:
Boarding Life (think dorm life; overseeing our students our 89 students living on campus)
Counseling Life Center (in the early stages of creating this department, currently we offer counseling services within our Health Center and will begin one-on-one services to our students and staff)
Community Life (serving those in our village and beyond).
Our passion and pursuit continues to be about empowering families to be all God created them to be; to connect & care holistically for their families & children. We have come to realize what is key is building partnerships where there used to be dependency. We created a tool to fight dependency: Partnership Agreements. It is a legal document stating what our part as Cherish is and what the family’s part is. These Agreements are given within a “Home Visit” setting.
On May 13, after months of preparation, we began to visit 94 families in our Boarding section who live literally all over Uganda. As we enter into homes, our intent is to build relationships and then go over the Partnership Agreements. We also used a tool called the CSi Tool which asks a series of questions, giving objectivity to the situation at hand. The outcome is to assess and help give insight into the level of vulnerability and risk so we know how best to help. If we have learned anything, we have learned there is such a thing as “when helping hurts.”
This round of home visits our team also came with a helpful training around Budgeting and Saving. It seemed to be well received and revealing to our families. Few have ever heard of the word, let alone concept. Once they were trained in thinking through income vs expenditures, many felt empowered. But more than anything, It is our hope and goal in everything we do, to bring the gospel message into every family we serve and to partner with them as they endeavor to provide for their children. Team CLP is well versed in what it means to bring a hope and a future with children and families who are HIV-positive, and many who are vulnerable and at risk due to poverty.
Will you pray for us as we move forward? We long to have wisdom, resources and most of all, an immense love to pour out as we walk alongside the families God has given us.
Written by Leah Phillips