Provision of medical treatment, counselling and crisis intervention are just part of the Welfare Department’s key achievements. The new policy of working holistically with the whole family has revealed the shocking extent of abuse, domestic violence, affecting mothers, fathers and children of all ages, as well as serious cases of mental illness.
Examples of problems facing those subsisting in extreme poverty include child sex abuse, teenage pregnancy, the sale of babies by mothers unable to afford hospital fees, domestic violence where children and mothers have been beaten unconscious and the prevention of suicide. These are just some of the issues the Welfare Centre works to address.
Flooded slum housing, the absence of clean water, poor nutrition and the prevalence of abuse mean that the Rainbow Centre children’s health is highly vulnerable. The Welfare Department monitors the children’s health every day and arranges for all of the children to have regular dental treatment and check-ups from opticians. Frequent illness is a given, because of appalling living conditions, so assisted visits to hospitals and doctors are carried out on a regular basis.
The Welfare Department’s regular contact with all of the families has been vital during the two year, Covid-related, lockdown period. At one point, the Rainbow Centre enlisted the support of the army to meet the huge demand for dry rations by families who were facing starvation because of the harsh, police-enforced, home confinement.
A collaboration with the ground-breaking national Grass Roots organisation has resulted in taboo-breaking education for children and mothers. Mothers and children were given age appropriate sex education revealing extensive ignorance at every level. Children, for example, were unaware of which areas of their body should not be touched. Mothers took it for granted to that domestic violence was the norm and had no awareness of their rights to be free from abuse. There was also an appalling ignorance of a plethora of life skills including contraception and loan-avoiding financial management.
Currently, Grass Roots are training the Centre’s teachers in a pilot scheme and will continue their work for the next two years at least. This is an exceptional opportunity to work with an organisation specialising in the needs of the extremely poor and the most effective ways of working to provide support.