Another Round of Frequently Asked Questions
Last week we started a series of Frequently Asked Questions that we get from teams when they tour our Day Cares. Here are a few more for this week.
How do you choose the Families you work with?
Our mandate as an organization is to serve the poorest of the poor. Therefore, we have to turn away a lot of families who are poor and whom could use assistance, however we truly try to find those moms and children who are at the very back of the line.
Our criteria for admitting families is:
- A single parent family. The child is either living with one parent or with a guardian. Typically it is a single mom whose husband has either passed away or abandoned the family.
- Family income is less than 350 ETB. The family must be making less than about $20 US per month. Typically almost this whole amount is spent on rent for a single mud sided, mud floored room.
- Not currently assisted by any other organization. To avoid a “playing of the system” and to encourage a move toward dignity, we don’t assist those who are already being assisted by someone else.
- Living in our local area.
- Mom must be willing to stop begging and go to work.
6. Special preference is given to those with young, sick or malnourished children as well as those with physical disabilities, HIV, TB or other health issues.
We start by screening moms when they first come to us. If they seem a potential fit, our Ethiopian staff will visit their home along with a member of the local government body. We believe in the need to work closely with the local government, and that means we make them an active part of our screening process.
Because of our relationship with the local government offices and also other organizations, we do at times also receive referrals from them. When possible, we assist.
How many Families can you serve?
Technically our capacity is 110 children in 2 Day Care Centers. However, we are able to exceed this number by 10% legally. So, our target number is 121 children. We currently provide services to 114 children and their mothers.
Shouldn’t these Moms just pull themselves out of poverty?
In the United States, where we are from originally, there seems to be a mentality that people should simply be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The problem with this kind of thinking when applied to slum living situations is that for many people they don’t even have bootstraps to pull themselves up by. (Where did that saying originate, anyway?)
Many of the women we work with have everything going against them. Some are disabled. Many are uneducated. Most are young. Most are very far away from home and family and therefore find themselves with no social interaction. They have no one to assist them. They have a child and no means to support the child. They have no welfare or social programs to give them a lift out. There is extreme unemployment, terrible inflation and no social power. They have no way out, other than the dreams that some of them have of either getting married, begging for enough bread for today or fleeing to a foreign country to become a household servant.
However, what most of them do have is determination and a love for their children. Those who were looking for a way out would have abandoned their child on a corner somewhere a long time ago. They have a rugged determination in the face of dark circumstances.
And, that is where we come in. We come as a partner. We bring some relief because of the desperation that most of the families are experiencing, however our overall aim is far more than relief. We expect that moms are going to do their part, continue to love on their children, do what they have to to find work and grow emotionally, relationally, intellectually (and spiritually if they so choose). We expect that moms are going to grow in their skills and start saving in order to prepare for tomorrow.
One example is hygiene. We provide soap for clothing and for the body for families on a monthly basis. Most of these moms could not afford soap if it was not provided for them. We then teach them about hygiene and expect that children will come to the center with clean clothing and face and hands on a daily basis. Now, we have to use some flexibility because these moms do live in rooms with mud floors. If a child is too dirty, we send them and their mother home for the day. They are welcome again the next day, but they need to be clean. This helps to empower moms and restore dignity to them.
We walk alongside moms. We give them a hand and try to help them up, as people have done for each one of us when we had need in the past.