Chisomo Makeni home

The Chisomo transition home is in the suburbs of Lusaka, and has space for 40 children. All of the children came to Chisomo from the streets of Lusaka, some via the Chisomo drop-in centre, and some via the police when they do one of their ‘street-kid clearance sweeps’. 

The purpose of the home is to prepare the children for reintegration into family life, and to act as a half-way house for them to start to get used to living in a family unit again rather than the survival strategies that they use on the streets. Some of the children won’t ever be able to go home, but wherever possible, that is the ultimate goal. 

During term-time the limit of 40 children is maintained, but that’s because secondary schools in Zambia are pretty much all boarding schools, and so several of the children on the books of Chisomo home are away during term-time. In the school holidays it all gets a bit crowded, thanks to the police and government officials who keep bringing each children to the home from the streets, even though Chisomo tell them that really, in school holidays when everyone is home, they are already full. So, there is a lot of top and tailing goes on to fit everyone in beds, and extra mattresses on the floor to try and find space. But as far as the young people are concerned, it is better than living on the streets, which is where they were before.

Edna is the wonderful house mother who gives her life for these young people. She supports them emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually, and is always there for them. Yes there are more Chisomo staff who are working alongside her in a social worker capacity, to make contact with parents and carers, schools and other agencies to try and get the children rehoused. But Edna is always there.

On average, to get a child reintegrated into a family takes at least 3 home visits before the child goes to the family, to give support and preparation counselling to the family. And then at least 3 more once the child is home to monitor how things are going and provide ongoing support. So there is a lot needs doing, and the Chisomo staff clearly do it very well, as they have a 90% success rate of children not returning to the streets. By comparison, when the police do a ‘round up’ and take children home, almost all are back on the streets within two weeks.

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