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SOS Children’s Villages and Fairstart in Africa

Fairstart just returned from a very exciting and inspiring research trip to Rwanda and Zanzibar together with Programme Manager Lene Godiksen from SOS Children’s Villages Denmark. We travelled there with the purpose of gathering media material as well as first hand knowledge about Rwandan and Tanzanian culture, living conditions, politic circumstances etc. so that we can adjust our foster care training programmes in Kinyarwanda and Swahili to the specific user groups.


SOS Children’s Villages Denmark has requested Fairstart to participate in this big African project called Community action for quality alternative care – in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar in which our role is to develop an education package targeted both SOS mothers as well as foster and kinship care parents from the local communities who in these times receive many vulnerable children from orphanages that close because of the de-institutionalization process.

Fairstart is also going to design an instructor education, which can be utilised together with the two programme versions in Kinyarwanda and Swahili, and which is specifically adjusted to the needs and circumstances of SOS Children’s Villages as organisation. In the project, five key persons from each participating country will begin the online instructor education in August 2017 and each student will train a group of foster and/or kinship carers during the course, thus helping at least 200 children to receive better care.

In line with our main concept, these 20 instructors will at the end of their education be capable of designing and planning their own trainings of groups of foster parents and kinship care families, taking their point of departure in Fairstart’s online training programmes – now existing in 17 languages including Kinyarwanda and Swahili (the Kinyarwanda version is already online – the Swahili version will be published within 1-2 weeks).


Research results

We spent five days in Rwanda, where we visited the SOS Children’s Village in Kayonza and in Kigali. Both places, we facilitated good meetings with key persons from SOS CV and in Kayonza, representatives from the government also participated. We met many competent and diligent people as well as many curious and smiling children. We also visited and interviewed two local foster families and two local kinship care families in some of the very poor areas of the country.


In Rwanda, the de-institutionalization happens very fast and within very strict rules. The government is apparently more focused on efficiency than the children’s well-being, and might not realize that these kids risk getting more separation traumas by being moved out of the SOS villages into often incompetent, poor and traumatized foster or kinship care families. These circumstances will be considered when adjusting the kinyarwanda training programme.

In Zanzibar we spent a week in the SOS Children’s Village, where we met many wonderful and hardworking people. We held a successful presentation and discussion meeting, we interviewed an SOS mother and an SOS aunt who received foster parent training from UNICEF, and we visited four kinship care families in the local community and learned their stories.

In Zanzibar, foster care is not an accepted form of placement. However, the kinship care system is quite well functioning and the local communities seem ready to reintegrate the SOS children into society. The de-institutionalization process is happening slow and considerate towards the vulnerable children, and SOS CV Zanzibar is experimenting with reintegrating whole SOS families into the local communities by letting SOS mothers move out of the village with their children. This model seems to produce very good results: the children are happy; they learn more about “the real world”; they interact with more people; and they actually perform a little bit better in school. The government in Zanzibar (Tanzania) has confidence in SOS CV as an expert in the area of vulnerable children and trusts that this organization will handle the de-institutionalization process in the best way.

The trip resulted in a detailed report, which we have provided for SOS Children’s Villages Denmark. We thank Lene Godiksen for arranging this wonderful and inspiring trip. We look forward to continuing this important project and Help Children Save the World.