April 26, 2022

Baby Celine finds hope in Kinship Care

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Baby Celine came into our care at Amukura Orphanage Home, malnourished and anemic. This is her story of finding hope through kinship care and reuniting with her loving grandparents and uncle.

Photo captured by Sr. Judy of beautiful and bold baby Celine

Celine’s background

Cute Celine was born to her mother, Nancy, on March 30th, 2018. Nancy hailed from Misikhu Village and was living in Bumala Market. Of no fault of her own, Celine's mother struggled with mental illness and lacked services or support. So when she conceived Celine with an unknown person, she was forced to nurse her pregnancy by begging from market vendors, picking food from dustbins, and sometimes stealing food from the market until giving birth.

When Celine was about six months old and in danger of dying, a nearby barkeeper who had seen the child's state approached a Bumala police officer to let them know what was happening. Young Celine was malnourished and anemic from living on the streets with her mother.

The police officer took the baby to Busia's Children Protection Unit, where they sought a home that could care for the child as she was nursed back to health. After a consultation with the Children's Officer, Mr. Luke Papa, he proposed Celine be admitted to Amukura Orphanage Home. The matter was then presented to the Busia Children's Court, and after hearing the case, the child was admitted to Amukura for care and protection.

Celine smiling in her baby cot, after six months of placement

Sr. Damaris holding Celine at Amukura

Tracing Celine's mother

On May 5th, 2021, Caroline (Social worker) and I (Sr. Judith, Administrator) went to the Bumala police station to inquire about Celine's mother, Nancy. The police in charge of the Gender and Development Desk, Madam Mary, helped us trace Nancy; and we were able to speak to her (as per the video below) and hear her and Celine's story.

Click to play

Sr. Judith speaking with Celine's mother, Nancy

The Journey to Kitale

Three days after tracing Celine's mother, she asked us to visit her at her home in Cherengani Village, near Saint Francis Catholic Church. We left for her home at 8:30 AM on May 8th, 2021. We brought two police officers from the Bumala Police Station with us for our safety. By the time we arrived, it was 1:00 PM. Upon arrival, we discovered that it wasn't Nancy's home but her aunts. Nancy's aunt was able to get us with her through the phone, so we could connect with her after all.

Amukura Staff, Sr. Judy and Sr. Sylvia, with Celine

A surprise visit from Celine’s grandmother

On Monday morning, June 8th, 2021, we received a surprise visit. Celine's maternal grandmother and her husband came for a visit looking for their daughter Nancy. Celine's grandmother walked into our Home, "my child, my child" was her greeting. "Where is my Nancy?"

Nancy's mother told us about how their daughter's mental health had worsened after being married in Kakamega to a Marangoni man. As a result, she had been missing from them for many years. We eased her worries by telling her that Nancy had been located. "Aki Nyasaye ni mulayi (God is good)," she exclaimed, relieved to hear her daughter was found.

After calming down, she requested to see her baby granddaughter. Meeting Celine, she shed tears of joy. Celine didn't quite understand why the new woman she met was crying. She looked at her grandmother's face and then at her grandfather's face, concerned. I helped her understand that they were her grandparents, and after learning this, Celine smiled brightly.

Visiting Celine's grandparents

On June 15th, 2021, our social worker, Sr. Sylvia, and I visited Celine's grandmother's home in Misikhu. Upon arrival, we found Celine's grandparents and uncle waiting for us. They expressed a desire to care for Celine and provide her with a loving and happy family environment to grow up in.

We assessed the family's primary needs before reunification and concluded their most significant need was to improve their shelter. Celine's grandmother's hand-made house looked old and unstable. Luckily, her grandfather showed us the new iron sheets and timber ready for them to build a new structure.

Social worker, Sr. Judy, Celine, and her family

Celine with her grandmother and uncle

Reunited in Kinship care

On June 22nd, 2021, we happily reintegrated Celine into her family. It was a joyous occasion, with relatives welcoming us on arrival. We knew they would take excellent care of Celine.

Following up

Our social worker visited Celine and her family for the first three months after reunification to discover that Celine's bond with her family members in kinship care had only grown.

We provided food to her family with every visit to help ease the transition, but Celine's uncle Jose is willingly providing for all other essential needs. 

The new house has been constructed and was a vast improvement on the older home—perfect for the happy family. Her grandmother often calls us at Amukura to share how the little flower, Celine, is fairing. We learned during our last call that she planned to enroll Celine in school by May of this year.

Uncle Jose crying tears of joy

The Obuntu saying: "I am because we are"

From an African perspective, kinship care is cherished most by families who understand the Obuntu saying: "I am because we are" (our African blood is one).

Because our African blood is one, relatives are encouraged to raise their kin and the children within their family, especially in times of death or misfortunes, like in the case of Celine.

Through an arrangement such as kinship care, a child's needs can be met within their biological family. 

In kinship care, the family will ensure that they can meet children's physical and emotional needs, model good values, provide protection, and offer guidance in all areas of life.

Children age out of Institutions, not Families

Reuniting children with their families at Amukura brings everyone involved so much joy. Instead of seeing children growing up in an institution, we want to see children growing up in their families and communities.

Everything is provided within an institution, but it can't give the same experiences that growing up within a safe and loving family can provide.

Celine with her grandmother and uncle

Celine with her family

Preventing unnecessary separation

We recommend to all parents, and those planning to start a family soon, to take time and reflect on how they can strengthen family relationships. Having a strong family foundation is critical in ensuring the sustainability of family-based care.

With that awareness, parents can make conscious choices to build positive family dynamics and help set their children up for a bright future.

Our goal is to spread awareness in our community that children are not recyclable commodities that can be abandoned in the street to be placed in Child Institutions and Orphanages. Like what we did for Celine, we believe all children deserve a chance to grow up in loving, happy, and healthy families.

Getting Involved

If you feel called to join us on our mission of ensuring sustainable family-based care for children, consider donating to help us better follow up with families and provide family-strengthening services to keep families together. 

For more stories like this, sign up to get updates by email on our website so that you can be a part of our Amukura community.


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