Our outreach is really a team of two parts. One part supports the boys to trace members of their families that they want to reconnect to. The team then establish a relationship with that family and check it is safe for the boys to have contact. This may be weekly/monthly visits or telephone calls ALWAYS with their trusted key worker with them. The importance of knowing your family, in a safe environment is such a huge part of their therapeutic journey.
The long term aim for our girls is to return safely home. Our outreach team work day in and day out to ensure that the children who have been in the care of Rafiki Mwema not only have a safe transition home, by working with the families and communities while our girls are on their step-down programme, but continue forever after.
A Rafiki girl is for life, in that we continue to support and check on our girls until they are 18. Our team visit weekly, fortnightly or monthly each and every girl after they leave us and ensure they are safe from repeated sexual offences; they have enough food and they are in school. This is a huge task but one so dear to our hearts.
We have witnessed firsthand two of our girls become victims within their communities and who have returned to us broken and more damaged and we have vowed to do EVERYTHING in our power to prevent this happening again.
Our small outreach team travel by matatu – local crazy mini bus – tuktuk – even crazier three-wheeled taxi – motorbike – pushbike and literally walk miles to reach some of our children. They make scheduled visits and they make unannounced visits and this has paid dividends. Recently we had 4 girls return to us from the community as they were in grave danger of sexual harm. The families and Rafiki Mwema work together to stop this happening – to fight the stigma that a sexually abused child is ‘fair game’ – and it’s working well!
The families have grown to welcome our team and they receive them with less suspicion than ever thought possible. They see them as part of the community and families and villagers alike share their hopes and concerns for the Rafiki girls and boys. It is as it should be – community support to erase the horrific stigma these girls faced and to welcome back the very traumatised and abused young boys on their path to manhood.
Of course we have a dream for this team. We would like to see a few more staff taking part in the team – we currently have two full time staff members – and we would like to have a trained therapist as part of this team. Then they could therapeutically work within the communities to help eradicate some of the abuse that has happened – the whole idea being the more folk know about the impact of abuse – and how much it happens – and WHAT counts as abuse – the more it will be eradicated. Knowledge is power!