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<>Background and description of the ReInnovation project

Mozambique has 21.8 million inhabitants, of which over half live in poverty. Although Mozambique is one of few African countries with a constitution that recognizes the right to food, malnutrition is the single largest health problem among the nation's children. There are 1.4 million people aged 15-49 who are infected with HIV, and 670,000 children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

In 1987 the first SOS Children's Village was founded to provide an alternative for children orphaned by the civil war. Today, SOS Children's Villages runs six children's villages, three youth programs, four kindergartens, four elementary schools, one training centre for SOS mothers and other staff, as well as seven social centres in the country.

ReInnovation is an approach where necessary maintenance and repair of a children’s village is used as an opportunity to improve and innovate the care and support provided through the village, and better promote development of the surrounding community. The idea is that we go beyond the requirements of physical repair, and review new ways to approach the situation of children in our target group more adequately. It also aims to promote community development in terms of social change. The key components of ReInnovation projects are that all projects must be socially, environmentally and financially sustainable. The ReInnovation program mainly aims to:

    - Ensure the best interest of the child by strengthening child development within a caring family environment;
    - Rent or construct family houses and administrative buildings using innovative and environmentally-friendly techniques;
    - Ensuring better integration of SOS families within the local communities.

In 2013 the village infrastructure had deteriorated and a renovation was needed. Electricity, water supply and septic tanks were not functioning as they should and there was significant wear and tear on the interiors, including crucial equipment such as mosquito nets. In connection with this it was decided to make an overall evaluation of the set-up of the village and the standard of care, to make it more in line with our program policy and the innovative approach promoted there. The ReInnovation project in Inhambane aimed to integrate the families in the surrounding community to avoid social exclusion, and provide the families with simple but high-quality housing with local components. The result was a ReInnovation plan with the following objectives:

    1. 15 families integrated and well-cared-for in the surrounding communities;
    2. Improved quality of houses in terms of comfort, security and protection to children as per SOS Children’s Villages standards;
    3. Enhanced autonomy of the mothers to provide quality care and protection to children within the new child care system in the community according to the SOS model;
    4. Increased number of youths who achieve self-reliance for successful integration in the community;
    5. Improved performance and access to quality education for children and youths as a foundation for their future.

<>Results achieved

Subgoal 1: 15 families integrated and well-cared-for in the surrounding communities

We have built 15 solid but simple family houses in the surrounding neighbourhood. The houses are built in clusters to ensure stability and support between SOS families. This way the mothers can support each other when needed and the children still have access to their peers from the old villages. The clusters have a fence to ensure security, but they are still open and welcoming to the neighbourhood, and the houses are built in similar style as the neighbourhood to ensure integration and avoid stigmatization.


The houses are clustered in three areas, Chamane (5 houses), Muele (6 houses) and Malembuane (4 houses). See table 1 and figure 1 below how the houses are distributed in the areas.

In the preparation phase, a risk analysis and mitigation for the program was done. A family situation analysis was conducted with each family to give them appropriate and individual support, taking the interest of the children into consideration. The families have been aware of the process and went through training and sensitization to facilitate a smooth integration into the new communities.

There has also been a reintegration process where we have assessed the possibility to reunite some children with their biological family. Initially we did a stakeholder analysis and mapping to guarantee support to the children and their biological family. During this stakeholder analysis, children and their biological families were identified for a possible reunion. Together with the children an informed decision was made for 8 children to return to their original family during 2017 – 4 girls and 4 boys. Another 26 children are planned to be reintegrated with their biological family during 2018. However, this is a process that may take time since the decisions require careful consideration. The biological families might need additional support to reunite with their children.

The SOS Children’s Village team in Inhambane have worked in close cooperation with the community based organisation and the community’s village leaders to ensure that the families would be welcomed and supported through the community as any other family. The term community based organisation (CBO) refers to a democratic group of people aiming to improve social wellbeing of individuals, groups and neighbourhoods. CBOs also aim for sustainable social change. Each CBO has a village leader and is defined by geographical location. These organisations have been key stakeholders for SOS Children’s Villages to ensure a good integration. The village leaders have been very positive to the families moving into the community. SOS Children’s Villages also has family strengthening programs in the communities that support families of origin and community based organisations. This way the organisation supports the whole community and not only the SOS families. As part of the integration work, the community based organisations received training on SOS Children’s Villages program policy to guarantee their support to the children and families of SOS.

The government has also been very supportive throughout the process of integrating the families. The District department of health has committed to support and regularly visit the SOS families.

Subgoal 2: Improved quality of houses in terms of comfort, security and protection to children as per SOS Children’s Villages standards

The project successfully completed the process of purchasing land, acquiring ownership as well as all construction licenses for building the 15 family houses in Inhambane town. SOS Children’s Villages’ construction guidelines state that:
    - We think long term when identifying location and we ensure integration;
    - We work together with local architects and contractors when possible to give each project a typical local component;
    - We build simple and solid buildings that are easily maintained.

The areas Muele, Chamane and Malembuane were chosen based on their developing potential – all three areas have grown in recent years and are still growing. This way our family houses quickly become part of the community. These communities have been chosen as the most appropriate ones, taking into consideration the security and access to basic services such as schools and hospitals. An important reason for the settlement and integration of the families into the new communities being successful, was that the locations were not new and unfamiliar. Most of the mothers are from these areas, they speak the local language and some even have families around.

Due to a shortage of high quality contractors in Mozambique, the houses were built by a contractor from South Africa with high quality and according to local standards. The qualified contractor (AMOYA) was recruited and the construction process in the 8 plots started in June 2016 and was completed in November 2017 when the families moved in. Material and furniture for the houses are from Mozambique and in cases where good quality material or furniture was not available in Mozambique, suppliers in neighbouring South Africa were used. The design of the houses has been adapted to the local context and is composed of 6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sitting area and a kitchen as per SOS Children’s Villages standards. The houses are fitted with new and comfortable furniture as well as all household items. All the houses have a spare water tank for rainwater harvesting. The water is mainly used for gardening and cleaning. Each family has their own garden where they grow local food, this is a great way for the children to learn about agriculture. For added security, the doors and windows of the houses will be fitted with burglar bars, and outdoor lights will be installed.

A plan for maintenance of the new houses was handed over by the contractor and both the mothers and the caretaker were trained to keep the houses intact. The children were also sensitized to how to keep the houses clean. The mothers and aunts were also trained in First Aid as well as management of fire extinguishers. All the houses have been fitted with fire extinguishers. First Aid kits are not yet placed in the houses, but there is already a purchase order in process.

Subgoal 3: Enhanced autonomy of the mothers to provide quality care and protection to children within the new child care system in the community according to the SOS model

The caregivers and children of SOS received training on life skills such as Child Care, Family Budget Management, Nutrition, Sexual and Reproductive Health, First Aid and Health and a new training package was developed to empower caregivers to the new environment. The mothers also attended sessions on Education and Health. The Department of Women, Child and Social Affairs and other local NGOs and institutions have been providing facilitation to the mothers on the above-mentioned areas. Child protection policy has been implemented and adapted to the new integrated perspective. The mothers have been empowered to engage in social gatherings and events in the community. They are also involved in form of savings structures in their new neighbours.

There are 15 mothers and 8 aunts in the integrated village, the 8 aunts support the mothers in their work. The Program Director visits each family at least once per week for support and the social work and administrative staff visits the families regularly. The mothers and aunts regularly attend local meetings with the community based organisation to ensure participation in the community.

Both mothers and children have been attending workshops and awareness raising campaigns related to health issues. The Health Officer has been checking on the health status of each child. Once a year, the children are taken to the hospital for a general check-up and especially on their nutritional status. Whenever vaccination or immunization campaigns are announced, the mothers are encouraged to bring in the children and the same when the children are sick. As a result of the move to the new houses in the community, the health status of the children has improved. Malaria was a major disease at the old village due to a nearby water lagoon which provided breeding conditions for mosquitos. All the new houses have mosquito nets to protect the children against malaria and this has shown results.

Subgoal 4: Increased number of youths who achieve self-reliance for successful integration in the community

Most of the children in Inhambane are still attending primary and secondary school due mainly to their ages, but four youths are attending technical schools doing courses on electricity, accounting and agronomy. Through the child participation and self-esteem project I Decide my Future that has been implemented in Inhambane village, the children are being motivated to choose their future careers according to their talents and the available courses in the province. I Decide my Future is a method that SOS Children’s Villages Sweden and Mozambique developed together with experts in child participation and self-leadership. It enables child participation and influence through training and coaching on children’s rights, participation and self-leadership and aims to achieve that children participate and influence in matters that concern them, with focus on their everyday life.

Training on sexual and reproductive health has been carried out for all children above the age of 12 and all caregivers, which has resulted in caregivers improving their support to the children.

Subgoal 5: Improved performance and access to quality education for children and youths as a foundation for their future

Until last year, all the children studied at the Primary and Secondary Hermann Gmeiner School. Now most children have changed school so they can attend the school in their closest neighbourhood. See table 2 below for specification on schools that the children attend. Before the children started in their new schools, meetings were held with the school councils for assessment on the quality of learning and how we could support those schools during this year. Direct support has been allocated to the kindergarten where we have enrolled our children, as well as two other community kindergartens that are being supported by SOS Children’s Villages.

Some children also receive after school tutorial support which has resulted in improved school performance. Other activities include sports and recreation as well as cultural activities during their spare time. Meetings and debates on the importance of education have been held regularly since 2016. Children also attended workshops on child rights, participation and protection. Gender issues have also been introduced in the meetings as well as with the teachers. Girls are encouraged to actively participate in other school activities such as sports.

<>Stories from children and caregivers

The children and caregivers have only expressed positive stories since the integration into the community. The children emphasized that they have found new friends in the community, that they feel that they are part of the community in a way that they earlier did not feel and that they love the new house standards. They feel free in a way they didn’t feel before. They are also very happy that their houses are very beautiful.

The caregivers express that they feel that their family autonomy has improved and that they feel more part of the community in their new environment.

Elisa is living in her new-built family house and she is very excited to be living in a new house in the community with her SOS mother and the rest of her family members. She says:

‘’I’m very happy that I now live in a newly built house with my family – the first day we started to live here it was difficult for me to believe that this house belonged to us because I had never lived in such beautiful house equipped with all new things. My new house is more spacious than the old one in the village. It also has new furniture especially the sofa I often sit to watch my favourite cartoons and movies on TV in my spare time.

In my new house we don’t share the same toilets like in the old house; the house has two toilets one for boys and another for girls. I’m proud that everything in our house is new, including the bed I sleep in and it’s very comfortable. I have made some friends; my favourite friend is Victoria because she is a serious girl and often supports me when I struggle with school.’’

<>Deviation from original plan and explanation

The project has faced several challenges during the project period which has resulted in some delays. During the planning phase, it was identified that the current village was in worse condition than anticipated. This resulted in efforts to solve the most critical emergency repairs and construction of the current houses. The focus during this time was to make the environment safe for the children and the caregivers, and the planning of the integration was paused. However, the management team in Mozambique used this emergency situation as an opportunity to integrate two families in the community while repairs were made in the village. This trial integration gave us indications on what worked and what we needed to change before integrating all families.

During the project process, we also faced some unanticipated challenges in securing land. Prior to this project, SOS Children’s Villages in Mozambique has never bought any land, it has historically been given to the organisation by the government. This means that initially there was a lack of understanding how complicated it is to buy land in Mozambique, and sufficient time was not allocated to this process in the planning phase. In order to handle this challenge, we hired an external Program Director who had experience in construction and in securing land in Inhambane.

As a result of an internal audit conducted by the SOS Children’s Villages regional office, parts of the top management team in Mozambique were replaced during the beginning of the project. This influenced the project as there was a short period of instability in the organisation in Mozambique.

At the end of the project, the Inhambane region was hit by Cyclone Dineo on 15th and 16th February 2017. The cyclone left a trail of destruction in its path leaving families and children without shelter, water and protection. The cyclone destroyed five family houses at the current village and made parts of the village unliveable. SOS Children’s Villages evacuated 70 children and caregivers to Maputo to assess the situation. Thanks to the strong and solid foundation of the buildings, the construction of the houses was not affected by the cyclone. There were however some delays due to the destruction the cyclone left which also affected the transportation and access to the area.


The inauguration was held on 20th February 2017 in Inhambane. The inauguration was a success and we had representation from the government opening the houses. The inauguration was opened with a speech by a youth in the village who expressed the improvements they experience and their gratitude to the donors who made this happen. This speech was followed by the government representatives who expressed their gratitude to SOS Children’s Villages and their donors who made this integrated village a reality. During the ceremony we experienced dancing, singing and theatre by children and singing from the mothers.


Thank you very much for supporting SOS Children’s Villages and making this project a reality.
Thanks to your support, 138 children now enjoy a well-integrated life with a good standard of living. Through this project you have also contributed to the development of the surrounding community.