How Simple Phone Calls Are Connecting and Helping At-Risk Families in India

Quarantine and coronavirus has called for creative times in ministry to reach vulnerable families and children. Our friends at Viva in India, have looked to innovative solutions by training mentor families in the community to reach out to at risk families over the phone and use these conversations to teach the COVID-19 Parenting tips. These mentoring phone calls are structured to be participatory and engaging, they support proactive action for the family on each topic and even have the children participating. 

The trained mentors will talk with an average of 12 families, speaking to one parent and one child in the family directly each week. 

The six phone call themes are based on emerging issues, as well as the ‘Covid19 Parenting Resources’. The six sessions cover: 

  1. COVID-19 awareness – good practices for staying safe and how families can talk about COVID-19 together 
  2. Building strong relationships within the family – How to listen to and spend time with children, helping children identify their strengths and their role in the family 
  3. Mental health and resilience – techniques for staying calm and relaxing, understanding children’s reactions, how to cope with strong feelings and how to talk about how we feel  
  4. Staying safe at home – Anger management and positive discipline strategies, recognizing and preventing abuse and what to do when we feel unsafe 
  5. Staying safe online – How to engage with children’s online world, risk awareness and setting limits, helping children to make positive choices online 
  6. Learning together every day – Supporting children’s learning as a parent and structuring time at home in a positive way to stay healthy and active 

Each session also includes a visual ‘poster’ covering the week’s key messages to solidify the learning, as well as a game or activity to do as a family, and a brief devotional reflection which the mentor can send as an additional support where appropriate. Mentors will be supported with training, ongoing supervision, and appropriate safeguarding procedures to mitigate risks of one-to-one mentoring and support effective reporting of safeguarding issues. 

To pilot the program in India, Viva Delhi and Patna coordinators did the first session - ‘Covid19 Awareness’ with 14 parents and 12 children.  The session was in Hindi and four community mentors were trained to speak to parents and children over the phone on it. After a positive feedback from the parents and children, Viva is extending this program to 6 cities of India, reaching out to 600 families in the next 3 months.