At Walk In Love we believe that it is critical for children to grow up within the security of a family. In developed countries, there is no situation so dire that a parent would consider sending their child to live in an orphanage. However, in the developing world institutionalized care in orphanages has been the only resource available to families in desperate circumstances. The long-term reliance on institutionalized care has created a crisis for the very children it intended to help. UNICEF reports that 80% of children living in orphanages have a living parent however most orphanages do a poor job of family reunification. Decades of research has established that children who grow up in institutionalized care have significant disadvantages from children who grow up in families. These disadvantages include higher risk for suicide, incarceration, susceptibility to trafficking, and homelessness. It is time to change the way we care for vulnerable children in the developing world.
Parents in developing countries need resources to be able to provide for their children and keep their families together. In some cases, children are placed in orphanages simply because their parents do not have family members or a social network to care for their young children while they are at work. Resources such as safe, affordable childcare can make all the difference between a family breaking apart and thriving. Daycare is a resource that those in first world countries take for granted and could not operate without. It is time to provide this resource to vulnerable families around the world.
In response to the need for safe, affordable childcare, Walk In Love has started a network of daycare facilities throughout the Arusha area. With the oversight of The Ministry of Social Welfare, we are working to start and support multiple, small-scale, sustainable daycare facilities. Through this model we are providing the resource of high quality childcare to at-risk families for an affordable cost. We are working with families whose children are living in orphanages, single parent families (mostly single mothers) who do not have family available to care for their young children and two parent families who benefit from the resource of daycare so that both parents can be employed and increase the earning capacity of the family. Daycare must be available in their local neighborhood, within easy access to their home and workplace.
The Kisongo Center
The Kisongo Center, located in Kisongo village on the outskirts of Arusha, Tanzania is our first center and serves as the main office for our operations. The Kisongo Center is a teaching facility for the additional staff who are hired to work at satellite locations around the Arusha area. This center is currently at full capacity with 25 children ages 0-5 years attending Monday through Friday. This center has brought encouragement and hope to Kisongo families and provides a model of how communities can benefit from the presence of a quality childcare facility.
Walk In Love was approached by the Ministry of Social Welfare to start a second center near one of the large open-air markets. The government has decided to make it illegal for mothers working in the market to bring their children to sit with them in their market stalls. Social Welfare is concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the children. The Market Center was established to meet this need. This center is walking distance to the market and has enough room for 50 kids.