Selection of the Families
Not every home visit is conducted within the outreach program. There are many reasons why a home visit might be necessary, such as absenteeism, under-performing or certain unaccepted behaviour of the pupil at school such as stealing, beating or being caught smoking or drinking.
We have pupils ranging from 5 till 15 years old, so different situations can occur. Many of these situations are directly dealt with by the head teacher, writing a letter to the parents or caregivers, inviting them to school to talk with them and find a solution. When these steps are not successful, a home visit is the last and only remedy. These home visits might result in an outreach case, but don’t necessarily do so.
Home visits within the outreach program are mostly the result from our annual health check. When a pupil is diagnosed with malnutrition, or another concerning health condition, we have to gather more information to understand the underlying problem. It might be poverty, it might be a disrupted family or an ill family member or even domestic violence, but it might also be something small like a pupil who simply doesn’t like to eat vegetables. In one case of malnutrition, we discovered that the boy had a good and stable home situation and the family was doing well. However, every time it was dinner time, the boy would never eat his vegetables which caused a slow growth. Putting this pupil in the feeding program would not be the solution because he would simply toss the given vegetables away when the teachers were not looking. In fact, this situation was solved in an easy way. Since the boy wanted to be part of the football team, we decided together with the family that he was not allowed to enter the team till he started eating all his vegetables.
Many other cases of the outreach program are not easy to solve and the pupils have a less fortunate background. For these families, we have to dig deeper and create a good cooperation in order to secure the development of their children pupils as human beings and as pupils of Baraa Primary School.
The strength of talking
To assist families help themselves we need to understand their hopes and aspirations.
Not all problems can be solved in the same way. Sometimes people need money, other times it is information or just someone to discuss an issue with. We take every opportunity to involve the pupil’s parents and caregivers.
Baraa holds parent teachers meetings to encourage participation in the child’s education. Its School Board has representatives from the ward and the village government. The school engages with the local community through its churches, mosques and village meetings.In 2015 we plan to run Open Days so parents can witness their child’s work and enjoy the extracurricular activities.
Through our partners we also run information and educational sessions for parents and caregivers on nutrition, general health issues, child development and special needs education. Not only the family need information also our pupils need information. They need to understand their rights and responsibilities to ensure that they can play an active role in their school, their community and their country. From January 2015 we will implement a Student’s Committee so the pupils will have a forum to make their views heard.
For pupils with particular issues we will pay a visit to their home to try to assess why they are failing to thrive. Conducting a home visit can be troublesome because the topic on the table is often delicate and people don’t easily talk about their difficulties or open up to a total stranger. The outreach workers are respectful and empathetic listeners. We often carry bad news which is not easy to give let alone find a solution for it. That’s why outreach is in the first place creating a way to listen to people trying to gather as much information as we can so we can provide an individual solution.