'Safe space' for vulnerable children providing positive life changes

Soliloquy style [an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present]

“The good old days eh! These days are so full with threats of different types. How can young people especially, aspire to achieve their dreams? I want good for my family, but i am concerned about by 15yrs old daughter. We are working hard to instill good values in her but she complains a lot about peer pressure and bullyism when not in the home. What can we do, what can I do to reduce these threats?”  Thinking, thinking, thinking ……………………………..”well I have this thought. I will share with my dear wife who also, wants good for our daughter.”

Sitting together, Mr Ousman shares his thought with his wife.

Dear Suzi, I have been thinking on our conversation about our daughter and her vulnerabilities when away from home. “What is that thought, Mr. Ousman? I am curious, we talked about this so many times.”

“Yes dear, but I am also thinking of our neighbors, who have similar concerns. You know we live in a marginalized community and that makes us and our children more vulnerable. Maybe they could join in this effort!” “well okay, now share that thought, my curiosity is waning.”

“In our community there is no place where we can meet and have conversation with our children on morals and how they can lead good lives in this bewildered world.” So, I am thinking of making our home that space where we can encourage our and our neighbors children to lead good lives. We can have conversation on sex, sex and reproductive health, abuse, human trafficking, alcoholism and any challenges that they would like to have conversation on. Mr Ousman wife’s remark was “Can you and me have all these conversation with children and young people?” Mr. Ousman, “We will have to seek support for some things we need to accomplish.” His wife, “Where will we get that funding from?” Mr. Ousman, “Honey, I don’t know but when we share our thinking with our neighbors, they, might some answers of how we can achieve what we want to.”

Fifteen members of the neighborhood agreed to the thought of Mr. Ousman. A forum started. The forum, a ‘safe space’ for children and youths became a meaningful engagement in the community. Neighbors of the forum supported the effort, financially and otherwise.

Eventually, the engagement with the young formalize into weekly activity and some ground rules were developed. The rules are that during the weekly conversations, no mobile phones were allowed during that period of their conversation, no school uniforms, no making of boyfriend or girlfriend and no smoking in the house. The home or ‘safe space’ was open 24/7.

Almost three years after the forum started, a conversation between Mr and Mrs Ousman, we learn: Mr. Ousman saying to his wife “Dearie,our persistence worked,we did what we had to do, what our hearts motivated us to do. Did you noticed that the social worker for this district is of immense support to the forum? She is the new social worker from the government working in this district who learned of our activity and thought that what she was doing in this district could benefit us. She offered her support and now we have a partnership with government. Our persistence worked for us.

Mrs Ousman also reflected on the support, the forum received: “Some of the children were in need of medical check up but had reservation doing so, in fear of what others might think seeing them going to the hospital. Now, however, the hospital has arranged for them to go at anytime convenient to them. This arrangement is working out well for the children and the reports are coming to us.” Mrs Ousman also reflected that her patience is what worked for her during this period. The children really confided in her and patience dealing with them in a way that indicated her understanding them without judgement was important.

In terms of moving forward, Mr Ousman is confident that what he, his wife and neighbors have started will continue into the future. Members of the forum continue to be in support of everything that is being done. Of course there are challenges. Effort of those who are in the programme to bring new members could be difficult. Those who come, do so voluntarily. Mr. Ousman reflected that ‘trust’ for and by everyone contributed to the confidence within the forum. As he further stated that “psycho-social support by two students still at university also helps with coping abilities of students in programme.” Their voluntary support is linked also to tutors, lecturers professors within the universities the volunteers are associated with.

The parents [some single parents] of children involved in the programme are also involved and regularly benefit from some activities, including the pyscho-social counseling.

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on November 5, 2018 at 6:21pm

Thank you for sharing a very good example of a group of local people responding to an issue. 

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