Keeping children safe and occupied can be a challenge at the best of times. And like most parents will know, COVID-19 and it’s restrictions have tested even the most equipped parents.
For the house mothers caring for at-risk and abandoned children at BTO’s unique family homes, COVID-19 has revealed their superpowers!
At BTO our mission is to provide at-risk children with a safe and loving home where they can thrive. For children in Nepal who can’t be placed and supported within their immediate or extended family, BTO works with our partner organisation Sano Paila to provide a safe home where the children are cared for by a loving and trained house mother.
These house mothers face an enormous and honourable task every day, taking care of beautiful children who have nowhere else to go, and providing a space where they can develop and grow into healthy young adults.
When COVID-19 entered Nepal and the government began enforcing restrictions, our wonderful housemothers locked down their houses to keep the children safe. Now, two months in we are in awe of the phenomenal job these women have done, keeping the children occupied and in good spirits.
One of these homes is located in the town of Birgunj near the border of India. The town has been one of the hardest hit with unrest across the border and increased case numbers. The housemother, Anu has shown admirable courage and resilience as the sole caretaker of 12 children aged 7 to 12 years old.
We asked her how COVID-19 has been for her and the children.
“It’s been happy as well as sad sometimes. The children are growing up, so they help in doing household chores, make jokes and fun which makes me happy. But it’s difficult to handle when children fight with each other and quarrel.”
“The hardest part is how to make them busy every day, especially the older children who have become bored staying indoors for such a long period.”
But Anu has many tricks up her sleeve and has done an incredible job at keeping the kids occupied.
“The older children engage themselves in indoor activities such as: playing online games, doing art and crafts, reading storybooks, helping in household chores, watching TV, paintings and playing in open space inside house premises while the younger children are engaged in drawing, listening stories, watching cartoons, doing art and crafts.”
Over at our second home located in Janakpur, the two residential housemothers Sita Nepali and Lalita Kumari Yadav also have their hands full keeping kids busy.
Sita and Lalita work together to raise and care for 9 children aged between 3 and 12 years old. They lovingly support the young children’s development and education and ensure they have a safe family space to be nurtured in. As you can imagine with so many young children, COVID-19 has been a challenge, but it’s not all bad!
“As the children are younger they do quarrel the whole day. That’s stressful but sometimes they make us happy by doing comedy and showing their love.”
To keep them busy Sita and Lalita say “as all the children are younger they are engaged in drawing, doing art and crafts, watching cartoons, listening stories, and playing in open space inside house premises.”
With schools and towns beginning to open in a phased approach, Anu, Sita and Lalita are looking forward to having some more freedom for the kids.
“[We’re looking forward to] the children rushing to their school and see their friends and teachers, we believe as they miss their friends and school much.”
“And organizing a meet between children from Birgunj and Janakpur, and things just getting back to normal”.
Our alternative care model
These two loving homes are part of an alternative care model delivered by BTO in partnership with Sano Paila, a local not-for-profit organisation that rescues children from illegal orphanages, domestic labour or living on the street. These children are orphaned, and many of their families have not been traced to date.
The two residential homes are designed and operated to provide the same loving support as a family, with a limited number of children, psychological counselling, medical care and educational support to ensure each child is nurtured and supported to grow into thriving young adults.
If you would like to contribute to our alternative care models and help children thrive, you can donate here.