Helplines and lifelines: supporting vulnerable children
I am a mother, and every time I see a vulnerable child I imagine that he or she could be my child.
Charlotte, a mother of four small children, has opened her home to vulnerable children in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Working closely with War Child, Charlotte has been a foster mother to lost or abandoned children and children who have experienced violence or are at risk of abuse.
War Child Helpline—funded by the generous players of the People's Postcode Lottery—has helped Charlotte reunite some of these children with their families, and provided extra social support.
I found two children lost in the streets of Goma, who had been travelling from the conflict-affected region of Beni. I wanted to help them but did not know how.
After finding two vulnerable children on the street, Charlotte called the War Child Helpline, a project that is funded by the brilliant players of the People's Postcode Lottery. She gave the children support and shelter until their families could be located in North Kivu.
The War Child outreach team managed to trace the parents and the family was reunited. Ever since, Charlotte's home has been recognised as a temporary foster-care family in the district and she has hosted several children.
Even if I don't have much to give, I am happy to help the children who need it as much as I can.
Charlotte is currently caring for a young girl who has recently placed with her after Charlotte met her and another girl on their own at the market.
"Every day I would see them alone, sitting on the floor. One day I asked them about their situation, and they told me that they had to run away from their home because of the violent fighting going on in the area. One of the girls was pregnant."
Charlotte's family took the girls into their care. Thanks to the War Child Helpline and outreach team, one of the girls was successfully reunited with her family.
Charlotte continues to care for the other girl during her pregnancy while War Child continue to look for her parents.
"If we find them we hope that they will accept her and her baby in their home, otherwise she'll stay here with us", Charlotte promises.
The War Child Helpline is free to call and War Child staff and social workers offer advice and support to children and adults.
Without the players of People's Postcode Lottery, War Child would struggle to keep this brilliant service available.
Every month the team in Goma answers 1,500 calls on average. In 2017, with your support, the helpline will be expanding throughout the country.