“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matt 25:35)
In addition to the primary programme providing Safe and Secure accommodation by Bienvenu Shelter for Migrant and Refugee Women and their Children, we were also able to open a day-care facility for babies up to the age of 3 years old and a pre-school for children from the ages of 4 to 6 years old. Such initiatives supported mothers who needed a safe and loving environment for their children to attend while they sought training and work opportunities.
Mother Assunta Baby Room opened in 2009. The objective of the project is to promote the holistic development of children from 0-2 years old, ensuring all their needs are met. Bienvenu Shelter values the importance of encouraging women to achieve self-sustainability by seeking forms of their own income. Having their babies cared for and protected so that they can seek alternatives worthy of maintaining their family increases their possibilities of independence. The baby room provides two separate spaces, the infant room and toddler room whereby a positive value system is implemented. Children are encouraged to love, respect and embrace cultural diversity within the baby room.
The Mother Assunta Baby Room extends the comprehensive attention and care, which is reserved to women and babies, strengthening the capacity of the Shelter to reach, in their care for these people, also the mother-child relationship, especially in cases where the experience of motherhood may have been accompanied by suffering and even trauma, harming beyond the mother’s serenity, the children’s healthy psychophysical and human-spiritual growth.
Another initiative, in the line of care and attention to childhood, is the Lovely Bears Creche, set in a peaceful, safe and caring environment where the children from ages 3 to 6 years are able to grow and develop through love and respect.
In addition to the care of resident children from the house, the Shelter welcomes in the Creche, children of residents and children of the local community or children of former residents of the Shelter.
As fundamental practices, the Creche encourages children to be respectful to each other, promoting interactions where they learn to deal with differences. The activities aim to develop everyday skills, creativity and art, favouring learning through play, sports, recreational and cultural activities and more importantly school-readiness for children of 6 years. Daily checklists are carried out by the teachers to ensure all developmental milestones are being achieved. Teachers who observe over a period of time any delays in development, trauma, problems with speech and language are referred to external professional organisations for assessments. Psychological and Spiritual help for both parents and children is also provided. The process of family participation takes place through home visits, as well as periodic meetings with parents and guardians of children.
Both Creche and Baby room provide After Care support up to 5.30pm. This enables parents and guardians to have the peace of mind knowing that their children are looked after whilst they are working a full day.
Another education support activity carried out by the Bienvenu Shelter is the monitoring of school tasks/homework support when the children arrive from school and during school holidays, encouraging the continuity of studies and emphasizing its importance for these children. In addition to classes, the Shelter also seeks support to assist children in relation to school materials, uniforms, school transport and tuition fees. The After-School support is one of the activities that has had, over the years, broad voluntary support in the Bienvenu Shelter.