Family Support: Communities Pulling Together in Crisis

Sonia and her family lost everything when the floods came. A big storm rolled in, bringing with it high winds and lots of rain. Water started to pound down the slope their house was built into. It flowed through their home and swept away their possessions. Their roof was blown away. Everything was destroyed. Sonia, her little sister and parents had to spend the next few days sleeping outside.

Part of helping families stay together is ensuring they have access to support during times of crisis, and ensuring children have a safe place to call home. Having set up both children and parent community groups, Family For Every Child partner organisation Uyisenga Ni Imanzi (UNM) had also put the structures in place to to help communities rally around families like Sonia’s.  Sonia was a member of the children’s group herself, and had convinced her mum and dad to join the parents’ one. She believed they would all be able to contribute and learn from being involved,  not yet knowing just how much it would also give back. 

While the two structures were originally designed to promote education, they also provided systems of support for other community needs. Straight after the flooding, the leader of the children’s group came to the family with an idea – together the community would help them rebuild their house. Both the parents’ and children’s groups pitched in, with the younger children helping bring the water to make bricks, the middle group making the mud for bricks, and those over 18 assisting the parents’ group with the labour. Most materials they needed were natural and free, and for the few materials that did need to be purchased, community members helped out further by donating some money. While the house was rebuilt, the children were able to stay at their neighbours.

With limited income, the support of the community had a huge impact on the family’s capacity to move forward. Sonia describes how the family didn’t know how they were going to cope.

“We were so stressed and full of fear about our future life…The new house is much better than the old one. It is bigger, and now we have our own beds.”

With the new house rebuilt to withstand flooding in the future, UNM’s initiative has helped create stronger home, a stronger family and a stronger community.

Learn more about why family strengthening is an important part of our work here.

*Names have been changed.