The CRO journey begins with rescue, as Simon and Noah conduct day and night surveys to identify children living full time, or part time on the streets and then invite them to our rehabilitation centre. The children come every day for a year and find a safe place to play, sleep, eat, wash, access health care and receive a basic education. All staff work from the rehabilitation centre and are involved with the children, especially with their spiritual nurture. Dorothy, Margaret and Rebecca are especially present; nurturing, loving, counselling and providing for the children in the rehabilitation program, whilst Joseph, Phoebe, Fiona and Nehemiah work behind the scenes to enable the program to run. Many children in our current program live on the street 'part time', meaning they return to families in the slum communities at night. Simon and Noah work alongside these families to address the reasons that have led to their children being on the streets. For those children who live on the street 'full time', their families are traced and we to resettle children in their communities. This is very much a team effort, spearheaded by the social work department.
One year after rescue, the children start attending a school close to their home. All schools in Uganda are fee-paying, which is a big challenge for the families of CRO children. CRO helps with school fees, whilst still requiring the families to show commitment through paying for their child's school interview and, where possible, purchasing scholastic materials. At lunchtime the CRO centre comes alive with a group of children who have started attending a school nearby; they come by to get a good meal from Rebecca and connect with staff at the centre.
The final aspect of our work is prevention: CRO carefully identifies at-risk communities and works with them to address the root causes that lead to children being on the streets, using a range of programmes including Self Help Groups, Child Protection Committees, Health Education and Women's Groups. Children who have been through the CRO rehabilitation program are also involved with the prevention aspect of CROs work, as they participate in peer outreach in their schools and communities.
The vision is that as time goes on there will be fewer children on the streets; fewer needing to embark on this journey. But for those who do, we stand by them and their families helping to actualise a better future.