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life Inside issue 3

Making home a safer place LIFE FOR CHILDREN AND THOSE WHO CARE FOR THEM Setting the lonely in families in Uganda Wholeness and hope in India Protecting children in Central America

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page 4 page 6

page 11


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Christmas should be a time of love and joy for children. A time for family. Not so for thousands of children in Central America. Due to the legacy of conflict and gang culture, violence is endemic across much of the region. Often hidden behind closed doors, children experience violence and abuse from the very people who should be taking care of them.

Together we want to: - protect children from violent situations at home - prevent abuse by raising greater awareness amongst adults and children Give online or by cheque from 1st December and your gift will be doubled. Anything you give will help make home a safer place for children in Central America.Thank you. We are an international Christian charity inspiring lasting change in children’s lives through the power of collective action because we have a vision to see children safe, well and fulfilling their God-given potential.


Last year we reached more than a million children in 22 countries through our 37 partner networks, which comprise a total of 4,500 churches and community organisations. Find out more at

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Families come in so many shapes, sizes and styles. They each have their own quirky ways and can be rich sources of (possibly character-building) embarrassment. My friend once went swimming with her sisters and their clever but rather absent-minded father. He came out of the changing rooms having remembered to take his clothes off, but had forgotten to put his swimming trunks on. She was – temporarily – very keen not to be identified with the rest of her family. Families may come with challenges but they have a crucial role to play in children’s growth and development – and ultimately the health and stability of society itself. But some children find themselves without a family, like Calvin on page 4, who has been helped by CRANE, our partner network in Uganda, and their family reintegration programme.

Joanna Mitchell Fundraising Manager Please turn to page 11 to read more, and find out how you can support it. We’ve also consulted the collective wisdom of the Viva team to put together ten top tips for making family life happier, on page 14. This is a bittersweet editorial for me, as this month I’m leaving Viva after eight years to focus on some new things, including writing. In that time I’ve been so moved and impressed by all that is being done through collective action across the world to help children. It means next time I read ‘Life’ magazine it will be as a supporter rather than a staff member. Thank you for all you do to support this wonderful work.

For others, family means fear, abuse and violence. This is the case for many children in Central America, and Viva is responding with an ambitious new six-city programme to help make home a safer place for children.

WIN Email to let us know what you found most interesting or challenging in this issue of ‘Life’ magazine and you could win a collage family photo frame to hang in your home, courtesy of personalised gift specialists, 3

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There are 50,000 Ugandan children in residential care

SETTING THE LONELY IN FAMILIES Tens of thousands of Ugandan children don’t have a permanent place to call home. A radical family reintegration programme in Kampala is challenging traditions and changing lives, writes Tyler Overton. Calvin returned home to an abandoned house. While he was out fetching water, his uncle’s family had packed all their belongings and moved house without telling him. It later emerged that this was a result of an argument between Calvin’s uncle and his father, who had brought him to live with his uncle, as his stepmother was mistreating him. He became separated from all his relatives and found himself living on the streets. Calvin’s story is far from unique in Uganda, where a variety of factors including parental mortality, child abuse, prostitution and poverty separate children from parents and other family members. According to the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, 50,000 children are in residential care with a further 10,000 children living on the streets. Increasing urbanisation has led to the

breakdown of traditional means of caring for orphans and runaways, and caused much of the responsibility for these children to be transferred to child care institutions (CCIs). Ugandan CCIs often have far more children than they can care for, with a ratio of one staff worker to a dormitory of 30-40 children. Poor-quality admissions procedures can also result in children with surviving relatives and satisfactory home situations being admitted to institutional care. Recent studies indicate that, even when they are functioning well, CCIs should generally only take on a temporary care role.1 Aware of the potentially detrimental effects of CCIs, and of biblical mandates for family-based care, Viva’s partner network CRANE began its family reintegration programme in 2010. At first, the success of this programme

Cantwell, N.; Davidson, J.; Elsley, S.; Milligan, I.; Quinn, N. (2012). Moving Forward: Implementing the ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’. UK: Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland.



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MAKING HOME A SAFER PLACE was modest, with only 23 children being reintegrated into families in its first year and a half. Just six months later, however, 116 children had been placed with surviving family members. A total of 690 children have now been reintegrated into families. Calvin discovered the family reintegration programme after the police arrested him for living on the streets. They brought him to the Kampala City Authority, which in turn referred him, via another network member, to Save Street Children Uganda, a CRANE member specialising in rehabilitating street children. In partnership with CRANE, it located Calvin’s elder brother, who was very willing to take him in. Calvin has been living with his elder brother since June 2013, and has since returned to school, where his teachers have given him very positive feedback. CRANE’s family reintegration programme goes beyond merely locating family members. It involves months of training and counselling for both the child and the family to ensure a safe and supportive placement, plus liaison with the authorities. Subsequent monitoring visits look at the holistic care of the child. Since one of the main factors behind family breakdown is poverty, each family is provided with a means of supporting itself in the form of productive assets, such as livestock, training in income-generating activities, or other means of self-support. Additionally, each child receives a starter kit, which includes basic necessities such as a mosquito net, mattress and toothbrush. Through local churches, CRANE is also exploring other methods of responding to the issue of family breakdown: a strengthening families programme, which will provide mentoring to families on the verge of splitting, and a rebuilding families programme, which will identify and train ten families to provide foster care for institutionalised children.

In Uganda

50,000 10,000

children are in child care institutions children are on the streets

CRANE is placing vulnerable children in safe and supportive families


children placed in families through CRANE’s family reintregration programme

Through the family reintegration programme, CRANE is taking inspiration from God’s heart for ‘setting the lonely in families’ (Psalm 68: 6), and its focus on strengthening and rebuilding families promises to improve the reach and effectiveness of its intervention on behalf of children. Tyler Overton is studying for a master’s degree in International Development and was an intern with Viva during summer 2015.

“The future looks bright for family-based care in Uganda. With the backing of the government, donors and other NGOs, we can help.” Godfrey Turyatemba, CRANE Child Reintegration Manager Visit to support life-changing programmes like this 5

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Viva’s partner network in Bangalore is helping its members to create a safer environment for children

WHOLENESS AND HOPE FOR INDIA’S CHILDREN Soundarya Andrea discovers why Indian children need protecting within their own homes and how their psychological needs must be better understood by churches and organisations who care for them.


Going to India was not in my plan. From as early as I remember I wanted to serve God in Africa and, whilst studying Civil Engineering in 1999, I approached a Dutch mission organisation that organises building programmes, mostly in Africa, to give a helping hand to the local community.

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However, my friend really wanted to go to a project in India, and I decided to join her. Whilst building dorms for a children’s home in a village three hours from Bangalore, the situation of those I met touched me deeply. I prayed each day

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MAKING HOME A SAFER PLACE for the children. As I finished my studies and began work, I started considering what I could do to contribute something positive to the lives of children like them. After making a career shift and studying social work for four years, I met with different organisations in southern India to look at future possibilities and realised how crucial it was for NGOs to share their knowledge and experience, especially in a country as huge as India. I discovered that although project staff are passionate about working with children they are not always educated about childcare. At the same time I was realising how much more useful it would be to create a platform where local experienced NGOs train other child projects around them. In that way the quality of care and the structure of all the projects would improve, and children would be helped much more effectively. As I searched, I found Viva doing exactly this and I was able to join its partner network in Bangalore where I am now part of a fantastic team. By undertaking a ‘big picture’ research project last year I discovered more about why India’s children have touched me so personally and deeply. According to one estimate, 40 per cent of Indian children are in need of care and protection. Many are neglected by poor families and forced to work when they should be at school. I was shocked by the results of one government study in particular: that one in every two children faces sexual abuse and that the prevalence of sexual abuse is proportionately higher in upper and middle class families than in lower or in lower-middle class ones. I’m certainly not the first person to be moved by the needs of India’s children. For many years, child development projects have been focused on providing shelter, food and education. Whilst such intervention is crucial, the physical care of children in India is really only half of the story. I believe that the need for quality emotional care has been underestimated and that psychological support has become a very important basic need. In light of this, I have been supporting the network’s member churches and organisations to be more aware of child abuse and understand how to

better protect children. It has been a challenge to change an established system of care but, with the motivated people in the network, we have begun to shift the mindsets of project staff and help them focus on each child’s emotional development. The network holds training on child care and child protection, whilst also helping churches understand why God calls them to care for children. The network in Bangalore is now training organisations to improve their structure and the quality of what they do, with the ultimate aim of creating a safer environment for the children they serve. I believe the Church is the best place to start making home a safer place for children. When church leaders or family workers are more equipped, a wider group will be reached. It is a privilege to see the network inspire change in many children’s lives as it grows and develops better holistic care for the least in our society. Soundarya Andrea is a social worker supporting Viva’s partner network in Bangalore, India.

Psychological support of children in India has become a very important basic need

88.6% 65% 1 in 2 1 in every 2

abused children are mistreated by their parents of school-going children report corporal punishment children report being emotionally abused – and in 83% of cases parents are perpetrators

Indian children experiences one or more forms of sexual abuse Source: Study on Child Abuse: India 2007; Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India

Visit to support life-changing programmes like this

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Š Harsha KR 24314 Vivanews issue 3 AW.indd 9

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Do you remember what you were doing during the first weekend of June? For thousands of children and adults around the world, it proved to be a moment they won’t quickly forget. The World Weekend of Prayer was a valuable opportunity for churches to focus on the spiritual and physical needs of vulnerable local children and families, changing lives through intercession and action. This year’s theme, ‘I am with you always’ inspired many to remember God’s provision, protection and promises. In Mwanza, Tanzania, the location of Viva’s partner network MCN, 2,250 children made promises to follow God for the first time with more than 750 children being connected to programmes run by the network. Seven year-old Martin lives with his grandfather because both of his parents have died. Martin dropped out of school due to lack of money for his uniform, and instead fished with his grandfather on Lake Victoria. He didn’t get to play with other children and was often hungry. Then the first weekend of June came and something changed. He says, “My friend told me about the World Weekend of Prayer and I am feeling very special to join other children in prayer and eat together. I have committed my life to Jesus: this is the start of my new life!”


Over half of the 3,000 people taking part in Venezuela were children or young people. One ten year-old boy told his church how he used his savings to help a woman who didn’t have enough money to feed her family. He said, “This moment taught me not to complain so much when some people do not have enough to eat. I thank the Lord for my parents and that I have a house, food, clothes and toys.” In the UK, around 15 churches took part in the World Weekend of Prayer including St Luke’s Millwall, London, who played ‘musical prayer chairs’ and Hornchurch Methodist Church who started their service with children carrying large flags to decorate the communion table. Emmanuel Church, Bicester had five prayer stations where children were able to collect a treat, like a pebble, as a reminder to pray. Jackie Meek from the church said, “The event broadened their awareness of the lives of children in other parts of the world.”

Next year’s World Weekend of Prayer takes place on 4-5 June 2016.

Go to nearer the time for resources and we’ll have more details in the next issue of ‘Life’ magazine. 10

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© ryanhsuh31



Helena and her siblings were rescued from a violent home

Domestic abuse against children and young people is prevalent in Central America, with thousands killed by family members each year or forced onto the streets. It’s so commonplace that most people turn a blind eye to what’s going on behind closed doors. Andrew Dubock examines a new, six-city programme which aims to change society’s view of violence, one family at a time. Helena’s decision to speak out and seek help has most likely saved her from a future on the streets. Aged 11, she’s the oldest of three children who grew up in a tough neighbourhood of Guatemala City. Life was made even harder by her mother’s drug and alcohol consumption between her shifts as a prostitute in a local brothel. Helena’s home – which should have been a refuge – was instead characterised by aggression, and verbal and physical abuse.

She and her siblings were exposed to an increased risk of sexual abuse, since, under the influence of alcohol, their mother often brought home unknown men. Each of the children has a different father, but none has had any contact with them. Helena’s courage in talking about their home situation to a schoolteacher resulted in this information being relayed to a representative from Viva’s partner network, Red Viva Guatemala, and a counsellor went to visit. The network’s growing reputation and expertise had come to the attention of the government’s 11

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Jeanette Meza Oquendo, network co-ordinator, says, “It was not easy for the children to talk about what they had experienced: they felt frightened and seemed anxious and fearful when their mother was around, all as a result of the circle of violence in which they were involved.” Their mother denied mistreating them, but the investigation confirmed the abuse that the children had reported, and under the direction of the authorities they were brought to a children’s home, which is a member of the network and located on the outskirts of the capital city. Little by little, the children have learnt to trust this home as a safe place. Staff have been able to protect the children while offering them new, positive life experiences that can help to heal emotional wounds. It is very much viewed as a temporary place of care for them and the network is actively seeking to help the mother put her past behind her and prepare her for a life with her children again. It recognises the need for children to be with their natural family wherever possible. Jeanette adds, “Helena took a step that has changed her life and that of her younger siblings. Now, she just hopes that her mother’s life can be transformed, too, so that someday they can be together again.”

© David Amsler

Child Protection Office, who gave network members’ permission to enter homes to rescue children and to investigate reported instances of abuse on behalf of the authorities.

for one in four of all mortalities. Latin America has the highest rate of per capita homicides in the world, with three in ten of these adolescents. More than two million children in the region are exploited sexually each year. The richest 20 per cent of society earn 60 per cent of the national income, while the poorest 40 per cent earn just 10 per cent. This inequality combines with high levels of marginalisation and stigmatisation based on race, ethnicity, age or social status to perpetuate violence against adolescents. Stories of domestic abuse and violence are all-too-common. Parents have been known to punish children by pouring boiling water over a crying child or putting a boy’s hand in the fire for stealing tiny amounts. A mother working as a prostitute might take her child with her every night and still expect them to be at school at 7am the next morning. And even more alarmingly, some indigenous communities are recommending that fathers be the first men to sleep with their daughters. There seem to be no boundaries of morality, with abuse happening largely hidden behind closed doors. How is it possible to turn this tide of violence when it appears too huge a problem to tackle? Our city-based partner networks in six capital cities across Central America – in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panamá – have started to collaborate on an exciting new programme with a bold aim to lower the rate of violence against children and young people across the region through the active participation of faith communities as agents of transformation. The target is to benefit 35,000 vulnerable children in the six countries and the strategy is three-fold:

Slum housing on a hillside in Guatemala City

Helena and her siblings’ situation is unfortunately not an isolated case. According to a recent UNICEF report, one in four Guatemalan girls is beaten or physically mistreated before the age of 15. Homicide is the leading cause of death amongst Guatemalan boys aged 10 to 19 and accounts

• To work with families to prevent domestic abuse and reduce violence in the community • To restore children who have suffered through violence and abuse, whether separated or still part of their family • To change attitudes and behaviours in society. The comprehensive programme will be run through a series of activities, including child protection training for both children and families, public ‘messages of peace’ awareness


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MAKING HOME A SAFER PLACE Domestic violence is exacerbated by armed conflict. Organised crime, human trafficking, weapon use, drug smuggling and corruption are perpetuating violence of every variety. Thirty years ago, civil war and guerrilla warfare were common across the region, with over 70,000 people killed and thousands more fleeing to the US and other countries. Many children were orphaned or abandoned, and they went on to form gangs for survival and self-preservation. Those children and adolescents have grown up using violence as a way of life and are now the parents of the next generation. Viva’s programme to lower the rate of violence brings fresh hope to children in Central America

campaigns (to complement the Good Treatment Campaign which has been running throughout the region for almost a decade), developing genuine alternative opportunities for street and migrant children and forming specialised teams to tackle violence and provide counselling. Brian Wilkinson, Viva’s Head of Network Development, says, “We believe that it is crucial to develop the child protection system and build local capacity to tackle social violence and to prevent violations of children’s rights. The attitude of the wider society towards children also needs to change: children, especially those living and working on the street, are criminalised and perceived as a threat to society. It is important that local communities, government and civil

society contribute to reducing the rate of violence in the region and to creating a society of security and peace.” As seen in Helena’s story, Red Viva Guatemala’s network of 85 organisations and churches is becoming increasingly effective at both equipping and empowering children and their carers at the grassroots level, whilst also influencing decision-makers in the highest echelons of society. The plan is that, in the coming years, through the outworking of this programme, home will be a safer place for children like Helena to grow up, that parents will be positive role models, that families will be strengthened and, ultimately, that whole cities will be transformed. Andrew Dubock is Viva’s Communications Manager

GIVE TO OUR CHRISTMAS MATCH APPEAL and help us to protect children like Helena from violence at home and work with families to prevent abuse in the future. Give from 1st December either online at or by cheque and your donation will be doubled. Thank you.


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TEN TOP TIPS FOR A HAPPIER FAMILY 1. Get out more! Evidence shows that outdoor physical activity has a very positive effect on wellbeing. Spend time together enjoying fresh air, creation and exercise. Slow the pace of life by wandering through the woods or playing pooh sticks.

2. Together at home At weekends, parents can end up doing housework or catching up on emails and admin while children quietly sneak off. Doing things apart can begin on waking up and continue throughout the day. Start by making a plan which includes sharing household tasks and trying to make them fun, whilst also including downtime together for relaxation.

3. Put down and switch off Technology infiltrates all parts of family life. Whilst there can be educational benefits, screen time needs careful monitoring – and not only for children. A British child psychologist has claimed that parental fixation with technology could have a greater impact on children’s development than their own use. So, the next time you go to check Facebook, ask whether it could wait till the children are asleep. Set rules such as no phones at the meal table.


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6. Appreciate the little things Write your children notes telling them what you appreciate and love about them. They can keep them and re-read them when they want to. Spot the little things that make your child tick, what they love or are excited about and do all you can to encourage it.

7. We’re all different Recognise together that whilst everyone can be annoying sometimes, you love one another and that is more important than irritations. Respect the need for ‘time out’ and give others the freedom to curl up in a corner if they want to.

8. Be consistent Regular bedtime and story reading is important. Keep the rhythm of communication unaltered in good times and bad. Set boundaries and keep to them, and ensure both discipline and rewards are consistent.

4. Good to talk For some reason we seem to communicate better outside the home. Make an effort to go to a local café or on a long walk together. Getting both children and parents to chat about what is on their mind is important for family well-being.

5. Celebrate! Make a big thing of birthdays, not in terms of spending money but make the day special by having funny presents, flowers, balloons, music and favourite food. Have traditions for marking special times.

9. Laugh Don’t take family life too seriously. Encourage joking and teasing within the safe environment of family. Play games – the sillier, the better. Start by laughing at yourself.

10. Pray Find a hook in the day to remind you to pray for your children – it might be whilst eating breakfast or commuting. Ask your children to do the same for you. Could you also share your family’s prayer requests with friends you know well? With thanks to Viva staff members Andrew, Cian, Katy, Jo, Shelagh and Tony for their suggestions.


Email us at with your own ideas on this article. 15

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9,000 22,000 KILLED




Focus of response

10,000 Children affected in 2 remote districts





Viva’s partner network CarNetNepal already on-the-ground to respond


years of work




of homes destroyed in Shikharbest village

churches mobilised

Hope for the future

Emergency relief to



homes in 2 months

children protected in 25 child friendly spaces



temporary shelters

children given psychosocial first aid support



people receiving trafficking awareness training

school toilets

Viva, Unit 8,The Gallery, 54 Marston Street, Oxford, OX4 1LF t: 01865 811660

FACEBOOK.COM/VIVATOGETHERFORCHILDREN Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fibre. Cert No. SA-COC-09174

16Front cover main: © David Amsler



Viva is an operating name of Viva Network. Viva Network is a company limited by guarantee no. 3162776, registered charity no.1053389, and registered in England at Unit 8, The Gallery, 54 Marston Street, Oxford, OX4 1LF.

Front cover inset: © ryanhsuh31

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Life magazine 3 (UK version)  

With the theme 'Making home a safer place for children', Viva's latest magazine features articles about protecting children in Central Ameri...

Life magazine 3 (UK version)  

With the theme 'Making home a safer place for children', Viva's latest magazine features articles about protecting children in Central Ameri...