Building VMM International’s Child Safeguarding Programme
For years VMM has been involved in different phases of Child Safeguarding work with our volunteers and partners. From 2015, with support from Misean Cara, VMM has been implementing our Safeguarding Mentoring Programme. The current programme has built upon this earlier work and developed into a major aspect of VMM’s work.
VMM’s Child & Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding Programme Structure
The programme initially provided two full-time Child Safeguarding Mentors who visit our partners in East and Central Africa on a roaming basis. One of the initial mentors and subsequent programme manager, Emily Hosford, facilitated child safeguarding audits and worked with designated safeguarding leaders in our partner organisations. This work has rolled out recommendations from these audits and lead to developed work plans.
The use of risk assessments and a compliance questionnaire has assisted in increasing VMM’s understanding of the level to which Child and Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding policies and procedures are being adhered to and where further support is needed. Partners’ Child Safeguarding Checklists are reviewed and the partners are also encouraged to consider amending their Child Safeguarding policies to include the protection of Vulnerable Adults. The programme supports newly appointed Designated Officers who have not yet received appropriate training to undertake the online Kimmage DSC Open and Distance Education (KODE) training in Child Protection in Development Practice.
VMM’s Positive Discipline Programme
The work of the second mentor, Éilis McDonald, involves Positive Discipline methods and techniques in primary schools through the training of positive discipline mentors, a school teaching staff training programme and workshops. This work builds upon a number of years’ work supported by VMM and Misean Cara in Fort Portal, Uganda. In addition to using materials produced by local Ugandan organizations, Raising Voices radio and drama also distribute the message in an informative, educational and effective format.
Since January 2018 the team has grown with two Ugandan teachers, Tadeo Bwenyondo and Vincent Byaruhanga. They have been involved as part-time trainers since 2015 and have come onto the programme full-time to work in schools in the Fort Portal Diocese.
Spreading the Message of Treating Children with Care and Respect
Tadeo & Vincent outline their experience of getting involved in positive discipline.
“As change agents and facilitators of the Positive Discipline Programme, we were young teachers, not long out of college, and doing our best to be good teachers. We had not really thought about how children were being disciplined. We did what other teachers, and many others, had done to us. However, we liked the idea of showing care and respect to the children in our charge. That made sense and we liked it so much, especially when we heard that there are many other forms of disciplining children that did not involve corporal punishments. We wanted to know more.
Our tutor was Éilis MacDonald and she invited us to join her and prepare a programme that we would use in our own schools, with our colleagues and finally, with many other schools in our area. We have since been involved in many workshops and talked to teachers in many schools in other areas of Uganda and even Kenyan schools in Kitale. People are getting the message gradually, and we are doing all we can to push it further so that our children are treated with care and respect, both at home and in schools.”
Building the Child Safeguarding Network, Resources and Supports
The programme also encourages our partners to look at Inclusive Education, promotes the online “Education for All” course, and is establishing pilot Child Rights & Responsibilities Clubs. The latter assist protection officers in Kenya and Uganda to access counselling supervision and facilitates networking with local organisations and connecting with the staff. In addition, the programme utilizes technology and social media platforms like What’s App and Facebook to share tools, resources, experiences and promote a network for good safeguarding practice. VMM also participates on the Safeguarding Steering Group for Kenya Misean Cara members.
In March 2018, Ms Lucy Monari, took over from Emily Hosford as VMM’s Safeguarding & Protection Programme Manager. Lucy is from Kenya but has studied and worked in the UK for 5 years. She brings a wide experience of working with children as well as development work and running similar programmes with her to VMM.