We do quarterly home visits to assess the environments in which our children live with “Grace Villa Extended Families”.
We use these opportunities to interact in a friendly basis with guardians and the other children in the household. We discuss behavioral issues, and come up with study plans together, which is important. Many guardians think that children who study after school are bragging or wasting time and precious fuel (candles, paraffin, fire wood).
We discuss why it is important and come up with fair time tables. While doing this, we are also indirectly advocating for the other children in the home. We find ourselves also intervening medically in cases such as contagious skin diseases. Whenever we receive bulk food donations, extra mattresses, solar lamps, soap, etc we share these with our extended families.
We also counsel the extended families on best safety practices for girls. Things like fetching water unaccompanied and at odd hours, and hawking food which requires the adolescent to travel unaccompanied across the community with produce on her head exposes girls to “suitors” with bad intentions. It exasperates early marriages, unintended pregnancies and even sexual abuse.
One solution would be to create programs that provide seed money or microfinancing to help families start a safer business such as a small shop that does not require unsafe practices.
We applied for a grant that will teach the girls and extended families how to construct ferro-cement water tanks. These will improve water availability for the families, will reduce having to send girls to fetch water from distant water sources, and will also be a source of income for the families as they will now have a marketable skill.