Retrak trains volunteers in Zimbabwe

EVENT: Director of Programmes in Zimbabwe | AUTHOR: Maggie Crewes

It’s been a busy week; providing four intense days of training with our new partners in Harare as well as getting the new partnership set up. How important is this work?…  It’s freezing cold and raining in Harare just now; children come in to the centre from the street with chattering teeth and dressed only in T-shirts.  I greet them and shake icy cold little hands. Life is even more miserable just now as the cold season begins.

I am so impressed by this team of volunteers: the economic situation in ‘Zim’ is very difficult and, for years, most of these guys have been working with no salary. They have such a high commitment to the children living on the streets; they just keep doing their outreach work and being there for them.

They also lap up the training. There are so few doing any active work with street children and it’s been a long time since they have had a focus on learning and reflecting on what and how they do the work.  Their very active participation made my job easy and it was so encouraging to hear their comments. One trainee said: “I was finding it difficult to conduct successful pre-placement visits with families but today I learned a lot … that will really impact my work.” Another outreach worker said: “I am now understanding what it means to do things in the best interest of the child and look at their needs as well as their ‘wants’.”

Interestingly a male social worker said: “It is easy to go to the fathers or uncles as head of the house to discuss child matters but, today, I really learned that we must involve the women and mothers and aunts in the children’s issues.” (Yeah!!)

2016_1304_MC training staff in Harare Zim_MC

We also had rigorous discussions on the application of Retrak’s specific Standard Operating Procedures in their local context and how to collaborate with the government systems so that more children can get back home to a safe family. So it was really important that Retrak passes on this expertise. I was especially pleased when a coordinator said they felt more empowered to do their job. They said:  “Now I think we can integrate case management of children much more and make it tie in with our government system much better.”

From Zimbabwe I head to Malawi to do a monitoring visit with our partner Chisomo.  I am looking forward to seeing old colleagues and encouraging them to press on in challenging environments. Stay tuned!

Please help Retrak to build salaried capacity in local organisations so that No Child is Forced to Live on the Street. To support this work please donate here. Thank you.