Ali has happily reunited with his great-grandparents, something that seemed impossible.
Ali is soon turning six years old, a child born to a 16-year-old mother and a 32-year-old father; He has cerebral palsy, a condition that requires time, finances, resources, and materials to meet one's abilities and needs. Ali didn't have any support or access to resources and as a result, he needed physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and a nutritionist consult.
AMECET Children's Home in Soroti city was the one who referred Ali to us, but before AMCET, he was found near Plan International (Kumi branch) by a woman from Kumi Central Market. His mother abandoned him there after his father had left them in Southern Sudan.
Before leaving him in Kumi, his mother had first attempted to leave Ali in the care of his great-grandparents in the Sironko district. Ali's great-grandparents pledged their support to his mother; however, they threatened to involve the police if she abandoned the child. Three days later, Ali's mom left Sironko and traveled to Kumi. More of her relatives lived there, including Ali's grandfather and step-grandmother with their four little children under 7.
Ali stayed with his grandparents in Kumi from March to May of 2020. Unfortunately, this side of his family has had many child protection issues. Within the two months that Ali was there, he regressed, sustaining acute malnutrition, a severe bacterial infection, and bedsores.
How Ali came to St. Francis
In June 2020, AMCET Children's Home took up Ali and carried out the necessary medical assessments, discovering he had a disability. The administration at AMCET decided to refer Ali to specialized service with us at St. Francis Rehabilitation Centre Pamba Soroti, of which we received him on October 11, 2020.
We carried out our standard assessments, set up our goals and plans, and implemented his care plan. Care consisted of nutrition and physio, occupational, and speech therapies; Ali's health greatly improved. He became the compound's jolly lover boy, bringing the staff here so much joy just by being himself. Everyone here that knew him absolutely adored him.
Safeguarding and protecting Ali
While implementing our plans, we also traced Ali family, hoping to find an environment suitable for family reunification. Together, with Ali, we visited his grandfather in Kumi three times. Although he could not express it in words, his reaction was very negative regarding the environment, showing fear of specific individuals. He was especially distrusting of his step-grandmother.
In our search for more of Ali's family, we spoke to the women who had found and rescued Ali in the market from his merciless step-grandmother. She gave us more data on his family situation, and together with our findings, we drew the conclusion that Ali should not reintegrate with his family in Kumi.
Tracing for other relatives
While implementing Ali's care plan and interventions, we continued searching for the rest of his family. We eventually found out that Ali had great-grandparents in Sironko, so we made another arrangement to visit them.
Throughout the home visit, we collected data through interviews and observations, and it went extremely well. We decided that the next time we visited his grandparents, we'd bring Ali with us so he could meet them.
Ali meets his grandparents in Sironko
The day we brought Ali to Sironko, we observed his reactions and interactions with his grandparents on arrival. Ali's response was so positive towards them, but there was one family member—a man to whom Ali reacted most positively.
On my part, having noticed his excitement, I asked who the man was and was told that it was Ali's father. He had recognized his father right when he came in the door, despite not seeing him since he was 2 years old. They bonded during our home visit, and throughout the hours we spent there, Ali enjoyed sitting on his father's lap.
Together with the team, we decided that Ali should have an extended visit with his family for two weeks. Pleasantly, when we did this, Ali did not mind the idea of us leaving him behind for his visit, especially when compared to his family in Kumi. Both his Sironko family and Ali himself seemed prepared and excited to be reunited.
Resettling into family-based care
After the two weeks, we went to bring Ali back to our Home to prepare for resettling. We also had his great-grandparents visit our home to guide and empowered with knowledge on how to best care for Ali.
After the one week spent teaching the family about Ali's care, we provided his family with some of his basic needs: bedding, foodstuffs, wheelchair, detergent, and clothing.
After resettlement, we visited Ali to find that he had improved even more in physical growth. He had learned how to feed himself and brush his teeth.
Together with the great-grandparents, we trained them in skills such as helping Ali do exercises and self-care skills.
This helps us make sure that Ali's needs are understood by his family and will be taken care of.
After coming back from South Sudan, Ali's father did not have a job but could do wiring and driving.
He planned on starting a business. Therefore, part of their resettlement package gave means to facilitate his father in operating a spare-parts shop for car wiring to provide an income.
Ali even gets out of bed, goes out to where his family is, and communicates when he wants something.
We were all so proud and excited to see his progress! These accomplishments are keys to more independent living and self-sufficiency.
Plans to continue this work
St. Francis Rehabilitation Centre Pamba Soroti is continuing to make quarterly follow-up visits to Ali's household to check in on him and how he and his family are doing.
Our Home also continues to give them post-reunion support and monitor the building of their household's resilience to ensure the sustainability of family-based care and prevent unnecessary family separation
We believe children have the best chance to thrive when they grow up in a family, as this story of Ali illustrates. Our goal is to help more children like Ali be in safe and loving families environment through our family-based and community care approach.
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