It’s 7am on Cash Transfer Day and children and guardians arrive at Open Arms.
Cash Transfer day is an important day of the month for many families. It’s the day when some of our particularly vulnerable children who have returned to live with family members, come back to Open Arms to receive some financial assistance and a bag of maize to help them through the month.
The Cash Transfer Scheme was established in response to a number of our donors expressing a desire to continue to support children who have left Open Arms to return to their extended families. A donor provides a monthly sum, usually £15 per month, to support a child who has returned to a very poor home. In order to receive the allowance, the child and their guardian must visit Open Arms once a month. This allows Matron to monitor the child’s progress and provide support to the guardian where needed.
Each month more than 60 families arrive to collect their allowance and during the morning Agogos (grandmothers) varying in age from their late thirties to their seventies,uncles, aunts, and even older sisters are in attendance as ‘guardian’. Some are HIV positive and on medication. None of these families have a regular income, or live in areas where work is easily accessible. A few are able to get ad-hoc work to earn a little money now and again. Just maintaining even a humble traditional dwelling is difficult for most of them and some families who are in particular need get a little extra help towards housing.
The families greet each other as they arrive, and there is a cup of tea for everyone, plus a snack for the children…
Senior Matron Mrs Phiri talks to all the families as they arrive, giving them advice and encouragement, answering questions and checking on the health and wellbeing of her former charges.
It’s clear to see that some children look happier, brighter and better cared for than others and this is something Mrs Phiri is always careful to observe. There are some children in the past who have been readmitted to Open Arms after an initial discharge to family has resulted in problems. The arms of Open Arms are always open.
And so the official business of the day begins. Mrs Phiri shows Agogos where to put their thumb print as, like some of the other guardians, they cannot all write.
Although Mrs Phiri shows great concern and encouragement for all the children and their families, some familiar faces brings an extra big smile to her face. She watches proudly as the children show off their new skills.
Without the generosity of our supporters, the prospects of many of these families would be bleak. Our Outreach Programme, funded solely by our donors, enables us to identify when a child is particularly vulnerable and we then recommend the family for the Cash Transfer Scheme. Once a regular donor is found, we are able to set up the monthly allowance for the family – a lifeline that makes the world of difference to them. In this way we are able to continue to support children who might otherwise have become victims of extreme poverty and malnutrition, whilst still keeping families together, which is the fundamental aim of Open Arms. Thank you to all our supporters for making this possible.
If you’d like to find out more about supporting a vulnerable child through the Cash Transfer Scheme, please email Judith Rudolph