Kinship care – April 23 2018

Three years after quake, kinship care flourishes in Nepal

After the massive earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015, hundreds of children found themselves alone – either their parents were killed or they were simply abandoned.

One such child was Angela, a 14-year-old girl whose parents fled the devastation to find work, leaving her behind. She had extended family members who wanted to support her but they too were destitute. It was uncertain if anyone could properly care for her long term.

SOS Children’s Villages Nepal made a big difference in Angela’s life.

Through its kinship care programme, SOS Children’s Villages Nepal encouraged Angela’s grandparents to take her in with the promise that they would receive financial support. The €35 per month the family receives covers her schooling and many other basic needs.

“I am happy at least I can live with my grandparents,” said Angela, adding that she appreciates that they can now afford her schools fees and buy her new clothes from time to time.

Without Nepal’s kinship care programme – started as part of SOS Children’s Villages earthquake emergency response – Angela’s story might have turned out very differently. Most likely she would have left the area, possibly to become a domestic servant in the capital, Kathmandu.

“Many girls from remote villages are taken for babysitters or housemaids,” explained Nepal’s National Director Ishwori Prasad Sharma, “but because of our intervention, the grandparents happily accepted Angela, and her development and growth are ensured. Now she is in the twelfth grade in our SOS school in Kavre. She is doing well.

“Now she dreams of becoming a bank manager later. I don’t know if she will become a bank manager or not, but at least she has the possibility to dream about it,” said Mr Sharma. “And we have many stories like that.”


A grandfather in the kinship care programme helps his grandson

Improving the whole familiy

Since the earthquake, nearly 350 children who lost the care of their parents have been helped through kinship care. The financial support typically lasts for a number of years until the family can care for the child on their own.

But the programme is much more than about giving money. SOS Children’s Villages Nepal provides workshops on effective parenting to all the caregivers and follows up with family visits every few months. Additionally, SOS staff members go into the community and talk about child rights and child safeguarding, as well as the importance of education and child participation in decision making.

In some kinship care families, their own children have started to attend school due to this intervention, giving more children opportunities they would not otherwise have had. “It is improving the situation of the whole family, and I would say of the whole community,” Mr Sharma said.

An innovation for Nepal

SOS Children’s Villages Nepal’s kinship care support was totally new for the organisation when the programme started in 2015. It emerged after the quake by necessity. Fearing that children left without parental care would fall victim to traffickers, the government banned the movement of children from one district to another. SOS Children’s Villages Nepal was trying to come up with a way to help those children and realised the best way would be for the children’s extended family members – grandparents, uncles and aunts, elder brothers or sisters and their in-laws – to care for them.

“We thought that since kinship care is aligned with the social fabric of the country, and because we found the extended family members as really reliable, we could start doing this and it has worked very well,” explained Mr Sharma.

With the gradual phase-out of the earthquake emergency programme, from 2018 onwards, kinship care is part of SOS Children’s Villages Nepal’s regular programme work. Kinship care will be offered in all ten locations where Nepal has SOS Children’s Villages, with each supporting at least 10 children in 2018. Already, kinship care is helping more than 60 children from the family strengthening programme in Gorkha and 21 children from the strengthening programme in Dhangadi. Meanwhile, of the nearly 350 children first supported after the quake, 59 of them will continue receiving support after the emergency programme closes.

And like Angela, who dreams of becoming a bank manager, this new form of care helps SOS Children’s Villages Nepal give many more children another chance.

Background on our earthquake emergency response

SOS Children’s Villages has had a presence in Nepal since 1972. With programmes in ten locations, we were able to respond rapidly to the needs of children in the immediate aftermath of the April 2015 earthquake.

The immediate response focused on establishing child friendly spaces, providing humanitarian support for families in need, reuniting children with parents and offering alternative care for children who could not be reunited with parents. SOS Children’s Villages has also been successful in:

  • Providing ‘livelihood’ programmes that help parents meet their families’ basic needs, and ‘kinship care’ support for those who need to take on parental responsibilities
  • Delivering ‘home in a box’ kits to help provide families with basic household goods – such as blankets and mattresses
  • Working to rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. SOS Children’s Villages Nepal is providing up to  200,000 Nepal rupees [EUR 1,560, USD 1,930] per family to reconstruct nearly 300 homes
  • Helping the education sector in focus communities, SOS Nepal has taken the lead in rebuilding three schools destroyed by the earthquake and providing transitional classrooms – non-permanent structures that are safe for longer-term use - at nine community schools.