On their own - Britain's child migrants

Did you know... that children were sent to Southern Rhodesia and New Zealand?

flagpole and college buildings
View of Rhodesia Fairbridge Memorial College. Reproduced courtesy Peter Gould.

Rhodesia Fairbridge Memorial College (RFMC) was set up in a disused airbase outside Bulawayo. The ‘barracks’ became the dormitories and a primary school was run in the old RAF Operation Rooms. From the age of 11, the children attended high schools alongside local students.

RFMC differed from other Fairbridge institutions and the focus was on education. They were equipped with the skills to fill positions of authority, in a country where unskilled farm labour was generally done by low paid black workers. Between 1946 and 1962, 276 children had been sent there. They experienced mixed fortunes at a time when the country was undergoing major political change culminating in the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Southern Rhodesia in 1965.

Between 1949 and 1954, New Zealand received 549 child migrants. The majority of these children were sent to foster homes rather than institutions but even then these situations were rarely permanent and the children were not monitored adequately.

 

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