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My community, my child-Building a community network of care for early childhood development.

Families and communities are most often the first line of support for children. Unfortunately these communities and family members may lack the necessary knowledge, skills and awareness to provide appropriate care, support and protection for children in the community. In this model of building a community network of care,we shall build on the strengths, experiences and knowledge of family and community members in order to increase their intent and ability to care for children. Through scaling up actions already underway,we shall work with communities to form teams that will specifically handle issues of health,education,nutrition,development and child protection .

Photo of Sharon Nakanwagi
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Institutions have existed and provided some kind of care like schools and churches but these have been doing this independently. We shall bring the different institutions together to form a network of care that will ensure the wellbeing and proper development of children. Community meetings will be held to select representatives from schools, health centers, churches, local council, community based organizations and village health teams. These will form a network coalition for following up critical issues pertaining to children including health, education, nutrition, development and child rights. The representatives of health on the committee will work with all the village health teams (VHTs) to register households that have pregnant and lactating mothers as well as children below five years.

The families will be visited regularly by the VHTs to ensure the mother attends antenatal, given information on good feeding and delivers at the health facility. They will also ensure that all the children below five years are fully immunized through linking their parents with the health facilities and organizing outreaches for families that may be near each other. The Education committee will sensitize and follow up with families to ensure all children are enrolled in early child education centers through working with the available facilities. The development committee will ensure all children are registered and have birth certificates through sensitizing and following up with parents to do this.
They will ensure that children attend to their places of worship and establish community recreation centers where these children can be engaged in play with other children in the community. The child protection committees will continuously sensitize families on child rights and follow up all cases of child abuse with the local authorities.

All the committees will meet on regular basis to present cases identified and work with the entire community to solve these cases. This will be a way of engaging the community to care for their children and through this many will be sensitized hoping that a culture of a caring community will be adopted. This approach is sustainable and will work because it relies heavily on existing community structures.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

The beneficiaries will be all children in the community,parents,existing institutions like schools,churches,local councils and the government at large.These will be located in Butuntumula sub county in Luwero district and will later be replicated to the other sub counties.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

Actually i have tested this idea already and we have registered successes where issues of child abuse have been reported and solved by the community.Children who are desperately in need have been identified and supported by the community through linking them to other organisations for care and the community providing food.Individuals have even taken the responsibility to pay school fees for some f these children.However we would still quickly test it through doing a community mapping to identify the existing institutions ,mobilize for a community meeting and select teams from these institutions that will comprise the care team.Then focus this team on registering all the children in the households and ensuring they are immunized. They.They would report the results back to the entire community team to link the children not immunized to the health facility for immunization.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

I would require the support of the local leadership in identifying these institutions and collaboration with the existing organisations to mobilize their community members to take part in rolling out this model. A lot of support is needed from Open IDEO to fund the initial capacity building activities.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.

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Photo of Agatha Kisakye
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We can feed a child well, build them a home, give them toys etc but until we develop a community network of care, characterised by strengthened systems and structures that ensure that children are well protected, that community actions take into consideration the best interest of the child then our efforts will not be as fruitful. Julian Marembo, Sharon Nakanwagi, Joy Nannunja and Elizabeth Asiimwe, your additional thoughts here as we make our notion clearer

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