In February 2017 Africa Heartwood Project established a program in Liberia to provide support to poor families who are voluntarily raising the children of relatives who have passed. We call it the Support Program for Orphans in Care of Kin, or S.P.O.C.K.. Our motivation came from the difficult choice we made to close our full-time child welfare institution in Liberia, the Heartwood Orphan Home. While this change was necessary it was heart-breaking, so thankfully all sixteen children who were in our custody were transitioned into family or foster care, or to the Heartwood Halfway House, executed with the blessing of the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MGCSP). Without the need to increase spending, we have able to expand our positive influence by enrolling additional children, mostly ebola orphans. Our monthly SPOCK donors are now supporting 140 orphan children in 50 households!
The SPOCK system is simple, and addresses the greatest need of families who struggle financially under the burden of caring for additional children: Extra cash to use for the greatest household need. Through a social worker, each month we distribute money to the female head of household as financial relief for the family ($10-$25 depending on age and financial need), scholarship funds to pay for government education ($25-$100/year), and an annual holiday gift ($20). So long as the children are under the age of 18, being cared for full time in the home of the family, and are attending school, they will continue to benefit from SPOCK, in so far as sponsors continue to donate.