Impact of the Intervention
During their stay at CIMA, children acquire emotional stability that allows them to develop self-confidence and self-esteem. This process of personal development is of utmost importance to give them the ability to face life's challenges and manage conflict situations positively.
They acquire maturity and a desire to improve and move forward.
Also, at CIMA, children develop discipline, a hygienic lifestyle, and restructure their way of life.
They learn the values of work, effort, respect for others, and coexistence rules, as well as a sense of responsibility.
Likewise, they develop the necessary social skills to achieve successful reintegration into society.
Finally, CIMA prepares them for the future by providing support to resume and complete their education, as well as technical training that enables them to acquire the basic knowledge to develop autonomously in their adult lives.
Throughout its 30 years of work, CIMA has accommodated around 2,700 children, of which it is estimated that 70% have succeeded in reintegrating into their families and society successfully, while 30% have relapsed after discharge, often due to premature discharge against the team's will.
Learning and Reflections
Children find in CIMA a space of affection and love that fills the emotional void that sometimes exists in their home.
The team tries to develop parent-child relationships with the children so that they gradually feel comfortable and consider CIMA as a home and not as an institution. In CIMA, they are heard, receive attention and advice, and feel that they are important. This relationship of affection is a key element in the rehabilitation process, as for some children, it is the first time they see adults making an effort and caring for them.
This love is unconditional. Children are accepted and loved as they are.
They cannot be expelled from the children's home for having misbehaved. However, this does not imply any weakening, lack of demand from educators, or lack of discipline. On the contrary, understanding the child's needs well means providing them with a framework of security, limits, and discipline that they need so much to find themselves again.
Workshops contribute significantly to the process of personal development,
allowing children to value their skills, develop their talents, and realize that they are capable of doing positive things. The variety of workshops is one of the original features of the CIMA methodology that is found in few other homes.
This long process of psychological strengthening aims to transform the child into an agent of their own change.
It is necessary for the child to realize that they must be able to find within themselves the necessary resources to move forward and to face a family and social environment that will remain dysfunctional.
In interviews with children, families, and volunteers, the semi-open regime of the children's home is recurrently
mentioned as an important factor that has attracted them. The absence of a gate and a wall at the entrance helps create a family atmosphere.
Group functioning and camaraderie are important elements of the CIMA model that promote rehabilitation.
The child is integrated into a group and actively participates in its smooth operation. They become aware of the possibilities of change, seeing others moving forward and succeeding. Children have a positive influence on each other. Group cohesion is important, and several children maintain contact with each other after leaving CIMA.
Without the commitment and vocation of the professionals that make up the CIMA team, nothing would be possible.
With few resources and much enthusiasm, a lot is achieved. It should be noted that several former residents of CIMA now work in CIMA as teachers, tutors, or help as volunteers. They explain this as a gratitude for what CIMA has provided them and the desire to give back the help they received to children who have had the same experiences as them.
Since its inception and thanks to the will of its founder, CIMA has built an international support network consisting of individuals, associations, and foundations.
Some examples of associations created by former CIMA volunteers are still ongoing. This ability of CIMA to generate sustainable commitment from volunteers and create support initiatives is a strength that allows it to continue to develop despite the worrying lack of financial resources.
Enhancing the relationship with the family is of utmost importance.
CIMA does not replace the family. The ultimate goal is the reintegration of the child into their family environment. Visits to families are very important because they allow children to maintain contact. Also, the CIMA team always seeks to establish links with mothers and fathers or other relatives so that they do not shirk their parental responsibilities.
Strengthening the social follow-up work with families and simultaneously
developing awareness and training work to achieve changes in education patterns.
Strengthening individual therapeutic work.
Some children suffer from strong psychological traumas and need appropriate care. The risk of relapse after CIMA is much stronger for children who have not managed to overcome their traumas.
Strengthening the preparation for discharge and life outside CIMA.
In fact, the institutionalization of young people leads to a loss of independence. Living in a shelter for several months or years tends to make them lose their autonomy. For example, they have difficulties managing money or are not used to making decisions on their own. There are few complementary programs to CIMA that offer social support to newly discharged young people. For young people who do not benefit from such programs, independence can sometimes be difficult and jeopardizes the rehabilitation process.