Our Reunification Programmeby Elaine Herbert on 02/18/18
Not all the children at Mants'ase have close family members who are still living, but occasionally there are cases where distant relatives are very willing to care for a child.
Whenever possible, when we believe it is in the best interests of the child, we reunite our children with their families.
During 2017 we were able to reunite six children with their families.
However, this is not an easy task. First we have to find the families, then visit them to find out about their circumstances. If their circumstances permit and they are willing to meet us at least half way, then the reunification process begins.
The child's first visit to his or her family is supervised by a qualified person, usually a social worker. If this visit goes well, another visit will be arranged. Then, if all is still going well the child will go to his/her family for a weekend visit, or sometimes a longer visit during school holidays.
Throughout the process the child receives regular counselling with a social worker.
When everything goes well the whole process takes approximately one year, but this is an expensive and very time consuming programme.
The reason this programme is so expensive and time consuming is because children are placed at Mants'ase (by the Ministry of Social Development) from all ten districts in Lesotho. This means a lot of travelling, from Qacha's Nek to Mokhotlong, Semonkong to Butha-Buthe, all over the country. And while it is possible to drive to many of the family homes, it is not always possible. An extreme example is one child's family home which is a three hour walk from the end of the road.
If the only obstacle to reunification is financial we will in certain cases continue to pay the child's education expenses such as school fees. But we are very careful and strict about what we continue to pay for. As mentioned before, we will only begin the reunification process if the family is willing and able to meet us at least half way.
It is important to note that when a family feels they cannot meet a child, or continue with the reunification process, we do not judge them nor do we try to twist their arms. We have to remember at all times that we have not walked in their shoes.