Children's Home: Project 

The children's home - a first real home 

When we initiated this project in 1996, we gave a group of 36 street children the opportunity to go to school. In addition, we started a day care programme for street children. In the face of the great suffering of these children and their perilous living conditions, we opened our first children's home for 50 boys and girls in 2003. Over the years, more and more children found a new home with us. At the moment, we are looking after 95 children and adolescents between the ages of six and eighteen. We operate to separate homes for boys and girls respectively where they can live in safety and with a real prospect of a future life in dignity.

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With the first night a street child spends at our shelter, he or she ventures into a completely new life: sleeping under a safe roof, on a clean mattress, properly clad, with underwear and shoes, and in charge of a locker for his or her private possessions.

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Most children adapt very quickly to their new surroundings. They become part of a large family, respect the communal and personal property, keep the place tidy and live peacefully with others under one roof.

For many children, the regular meals are a real treat: we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and provide lunch boxes for school-going children and a snack in the afternoon. A water filter unit ensures that all drinking water is safe for consumption. Our food is prepared by four cooks.

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Children feel part of a real community, and fights are very rare, as all are happy to have found a home and a real family. Girls are treated with respect and the children grow up in a safe place free of violence.

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Schooling

Depending on their age, skills and interests, our children attend six different, highly regarded private schools, including a special school for deaf children. We pay the school fees and provide books and uniforms.

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To bring the children from the home to the various schools, we are indebted to the Lions Club of Frankfurt Paulskirche who paid for a school bus.

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We regularly meet with teachers to monitor the progress of our children.

Supervised study time

When the children return from school at lunchtime, they sit down to a meal and then do their homework under the supervision of qualified staff, who also provide remedial tuition. For this purpose, we employ two teachers. The children are divided into groups and obtain the support they need pertaining to their current situation. The children are also taught computer skills.

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English is taught in small groups. It is crucial that all children achieve a working knowledge of English, as these language skills are the key to any future vocational training and success. These classes are rather informal, and include drawing, art and role plays.

Vocational training

As children grow up, we regularly meet with them to discuss their plans, ambitions and hopes for the future as adults, as well as the training they require to achieve their goals. Together with the young girls and boys, we identify the best course option or apprenticeship for them. We accompany them through their time of vocational training and assist them in finding a job afterwards. Apart from life-of-work induction courses during the summer holidays, we offer workshops through which the adolescents learn how to become more self-confident and assertive. These workshops aim at enabling them to gain a better understanding of life and society. With these skills, we hope they will be able to break out of the rigid social structures that tend to banish them to the margins of society.

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The older children in our homes attend IT classes. Children who are to leave school soon sit down with our care workers to look at their interests, skills and aptitudes to find out which vocation would suit them best. We accompany them through their time of vocational training and assist them in finding a job afterwards.

Social care and activities

After the supervised study time, children spend the afternoon with various activities and in workshops. They choose the courses they wish to attend themselves, and all classes and workshops are delivered in small groups. Many children opt for several activities per day.

Three times a week, the children are taught by professional dancers and musicians in Kathak (classic dance) and learn how to play the Tabla. Very popular are also our Taekwondo classes.

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Every day, children have the chance to take part in workshops dedicated to painting, arts and craft. Both girls and boys alike love our batik and needlecraft courses and enjoy the sports activities.

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We find that offering a wide range of activities is a very successful approach, as every girl and boy will find something to do that suits their interest and talents. They learn about the importance of fairness, team play and perseverance, and can unleash their talents.

On Sundays and during the school holidays, we organise outings to the cinema or park, visit a temple or go on a boat trip.

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Every month, about six to ten children have their birthday. We celebrate of course every birthday with a cake, candles and songs. The birthday child then cuts the huge cake to share it with all other children in the house. On this important day, he or she can choose what's for dinner. Every birthday child receives a special present of a brand-new outfit.

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Medical care

Every child that joins our community from the street is thoroughly examined by a doctor, who also takes blood samples. The samples are tested for a variety of diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV. If necessary, the child then receives medical treatment. During the examination, the doctor also administers the necessary vaccinations against tetanus, polio, hepatitis etc. We are often shocked by the findings made in the medical examinations.

Most children suffer from several diseases and parasitic infestation (lice, scabies). We often meet children with serious amoebic, bacterial and viral infections, while many suffer from a compromised immune system, kidney and liver diseases. Treatment commences immediately upon diagnosis and is provided by our nurse. Many children require a special diet, which is of course available in our home. The majority of new arrivals require urgent dental treatment.

All older children undergo regular checks for tuberculosis and receive all vaccines they require. Thanks to the regular and nutritious meals, the hygienic living environment and the care of our staff, most children fully recover from their conditions.

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Medical and social assistance for family members

Where members of the families of our children need urgent medical care, we pay for the treatment and medication. However, for reasons of limited resources, this assistance is granted based on the gravity of the situation.

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Our children's home at a glance:

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Team of our two children's homes – 2011

1 project manager
1 project coordinator
1 housemaster (boys)
1 housemaster (girls)
1 secretary
1 office assistant
1 materials manager
1 nurse
10 carers

10 remedial teachers
6 activity tutors

4 cooks and kitchen aids
2 dishwashers
2 laundry workers and 3 cleaners

1 gardener
2 drivers, one driving the school bus
4 security guards at the gate (24-hour security cover)

We currently employ 50 people in our team. With the exception of the German project manager, they are all recruited from the local community. The operative management of the homes is in the hands of our local partner organisation Prayatn. Over many years, we have gradually involved more and more local workers in our projects and are delighted with the commitment and dedication of our Indian employees.

Team members with fixed contracts of employment are paid a customary local wage. We employ members of various castes and religious groups to foster tolerance and mutual respect. All our employees are offered training courses, as we want to further their skills and competences in their fields. Teaching staff are provided with innovative and appropriate teaching aids, while carers are encouraged to explore new activities for the children and develop their own child-centred programmes.

We recruit properly trained and competent personnel, even if we have to pay slightly higher wages, as quality of care for the children always comes first. We know that the medical care of our children is in very good hands. We closely cooperate with a paediatrician, an internist, a surgeon, an orthopaedic consultant and an ENT specialist and liaise with the Apollo hospital in Varanasi (Benares).

 

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