Shah* was only a few days old when she was abandoned and sent to the Baby Home in Khujand, Tajikistan.
Having spent most of her life in a residential institution, an opportunity for a family care alternative became available for the first time when she was 15 months old.
HealthProm has worked with UNICEF, local partners and authorities to develop and pilot Tajikistan's first ever foster care programme. Shah has now joined a new family with her foster mother Dilafruz (pictured), who was selected and trained by HealthProm's partners. This was the first time in Tajikistan that a baby without parents had left institutional care to become part of an alternative family. We are very grateful to UNICEF, our local partners and the Child Rights Unit who helped to make this happen.
Community Health Workers for our project in Balkh Province, Afghanistan are very carefully selected and trained.
One such health worker is Tanaz*. She is 50 years old, with two surviving children after seven births. She lost four during infancy, all having died without receiving any medical treatment. If there had been transport or money to pay a doctor her children might have survived.
She is excited by her new role as a Community Health Worker. She was trained by our local partner, and is now able to help other women who are pregnant and those who have sick children. She also distributes medicines and encourages women to visit the health centre for care when needed.
Many women are prevented from seeking health care in this community, often by their husbands and sometimes by older women within the family, who do not believe it to be appropriate or necessary. A commonly held belief among older women is that if they were able to survive without treatment during their own pregnancies, then younger women should be able to as well. Older women like Tanaz are helping to change these attitudes.
Aizhan, an 8 year old girl from Batken, Kyrgyzstan, attended school for the first time in 2014.
Her local school had previously refused to accept her as a pupil because of her intellectual disabilities. Attending the Noor Day Centre, which provides educational opportunities and support for children with disabilities and their families, for a full year prior to entering school made this milestone possible.
When she first started at the Day Centre, she had significant communication difficulties and was aggressive with other children. After a year of hard work with teachers, interaction with other children and support from her family, she developed considerably. She was able to play calmly with other children and recognize the emotions of others. Learning to use pictures to help her express herself reduced her frustration and aggressive behaviour. Her progress so inspired her mother that she attended several seminars at the Day Centre, during which she acquired a more positive attitude and interest in the development of her daughter.
Aizhan now attends ordinary school, with extra help from a teaching assistant. This has become possible because of her perseverance, the support of her parents and the dedication of the Day Centre staff, supported by HealthProm. At HealthProm we believe that, with the proper support, every child can attend school.
Fatima* approached one of the Baby Homes in Dushanbe, Tajikistan to place her son into their care.
Working within their policy to attempt to keep families together, staff and NGO partners at the home offered another solution. They were able to house Fatima and her son in a shelter shared with another woman and her children.
Fatima’s story is not uncommon. She was the fourth wife of a man who was physically abusive. She also had difficulties with her husband’s other wives, his sisters and his mother, who lived in the same home. They shared a crowded house and Fatima says that she was always unwelcome. Her son also suffered abuse from the family. She felt she had no choice but to leave.
With no money, no family support and nowhere to live, she needed to find some income. However she could not afford childcare for her young son, nor could she afford to feed him. Her only choice was to turn to a Baby Home, or orphanage. ‘I have only one child— of course I don’t want to give him away. It was a very hard decision to make’, she says, ‘I felt I didn't want to be separated from my child. All the time I was trying to find a solution to my issue but I couldn't. There was a moment when I was thinking about suicide’.
Thanks to newly developed respite services offered through the Baby Home in Dushanbe— facilitated by HealthProm and delivered through local partners— Fatima is looking at a brighter future. She is now fully supported to start to build a life for herself and her son. HealthProm’s partner organisation provides food and basic necessities as well as shelter. They have set Fatima up with training in tailoring so that she can be able to support her family in the future. By keeping this family together, both mother and son are able to contemplate a better life.
* Names have been changed