Fixing Family Breakdowns to Build Brighter Futures
Valeria* and her siblings had a tough childhood. Their father was an alcoholic, an addiction he fed by drinking through the family's savings. There was no money at home, so the children began to work on the street. Feeling the pressures to provide and the lack of protection from their family, Valeria and her sisters wanted to leave home and get married in order to escape the violence that had begun to characterise their upbringings. An intervention from Family For Every Child member organisation, JUCONI, would offer another way.
Valeria describes how at the family’s low point, their lives were filled with sadness. They had to work, and didn’t have time to eat or talk together. Their lack of means also impacted on the children’s education – the immediate need for food tended to outweigh school attendance. It’s hard to learn when you’re hungry.
“Sometimes we didn’t study and we didn’t care about school. The most important thing was to earn enough money to eat,” said Valeria.
The children were burdened beyond their years, while their parent’s anti-social behaviours were symptomatic of their own struggles. This family was in urgent need of support, and after meeting the children on the street, that’s exactly what JUCONI was able to offer.
The family began therapy sessions, while also receiving material assistance to ensure their basic needs were being met and financial barriers to furthering the children’s education removed. JUCONI helped the family reconnect, and gave them the tools they needed to more effectively express themselves and communicate, rather than turning to yelling and violence.
Now a mother herself, Valeria describes how they are proud of their father for successfully battling his demons to become a great role model for his grandchildren.
“I see that he is a hardworking person who does a lot for us; we didn’t realise this before. We feel so much better now and we teach our own children good values and behaviour. I teach my children to persevere and tell them that they can achieve anything they want to.”
The effects of such an intervention are inter-generational: poverty cycles are broken and anti-social behaviours addressed. It’s a sentiment summed up by Valeria who recognises that despite such massive challenges, working together through troubles together wherever possible signals the best way forward.
“Working with your own family gives you strength. The really helpful thing is recognising the things that aren’t working and learning you can change them. Accepting that there are always challenges, but it’s better to work with your own family than to go outside the family.”
Learn more about how we help families stay together here.
*Names have been changed.