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RAISA YEBO May - June 2003
Regional AIDS Initiative of Southern Africa/VSO
June 27, 2003

Read the workshop report online at http://www.vso.org.uk/raisa/workshops.htm

This edition of Yebo is focusing on Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC’s), one of the key focus areas for RAISA’s 4th year. Orphan Estimates at the end of 2001 for RAISA countries totalled 2,949,000, and by 2010, it is estimated that this figure will have risen to 6,190,000.

‘HIV & AIDS is having a devastating impact on the world’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Since researchers first identified HIV & AIDS nearly a generation ago, more than 20 million people around the world have died from the disease. An estimated 40 million are living with HIV today, including almost three million children under the age of 15.’ (Children on the Brink 2002 UNAIDS, UNICEF, USAID)

The issues facing whole countries and individual communities are familiar: Governments do not have the capacity to care for all these children, nor are creating institutions the answer (both for the children and for financial reasons). Local and community responses are needed to support these vulnerable children. More and more households are being run by children, especially girls. Options for these children are diminished due to lack of income, familial support, education and nutrition thus support networks suffer as well. Frequently children are growing up experiencing minimal support from the community or families, minimum education and very possibly putting themselves in positions of risk in order to make money (i.e. child sex workers) resulting in both physical and emotional stress as well as long term impacts. Financial transfers from the state to carers in recognition of the resources these families lack is essential in enabling communities to continue to care for the increasing number of orphans and vulnerable children. It is important that social welfare ministries are sustained and encouraged to expand their potential to create relief for these people both in terms of finances and recognition. It is imperative to acknowledge that both the sick, and those who care, need support. The watchword needs to be education, education, education; children grow into adults and therefore it is vital to target children and provide necessary information and support around HIV & AIDS for future generations.

Additionally there is a need to be flexible and innovative in how children access that education.

Last year RAISA distributed 12 small grants to support organisations working around orphans and vulnerable children. RAISA Zimbabwe held a workshop last December on Orphans & Vulnerable Children (OVC’s) and RAISA’s conference for Year four will also be focusing on OVCs.

From 12 to 21 May 2003 RAISA organized a study tour in partner ship with UNASO (Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organsiations), which took place in Uganda. The theme of the study tour was Community Responses to Orphans and Vulnerable Children and it aimed to give participating organisations the chance to create stronger networks and share learning and good practice in both Uganda and other RAISA countries (Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa). The tour involved 11 participants from RAISA countries working with Orphans and Vulnerable Children. Many AIDS support organisations in Uganda have OVC as one of their core services and UNASO selected organisations that covered these issues well.

These organisations provided participants with a lot of issues to discuss and consider, with three main areas emerging as most striking for the tourers:

  • The level of coordination between AIDS Service Organisations working in Uganda
  • The multi-sectoral nature of the responses
  • The use of the memory book to capture the thoughts of PLWAs

Besides the feedback on the tour in this newsletter, a report will be made available of the tour. Please contact your Country Coordinator for more details.

Some info on OVC’s from the 6 RAISA countries:

South Africa
Orphans and vulnerable children are a big concern in South Africa. At the moment the statistics show that there are 662,000 AIDS orphans in South Africa and the predictions are that by 2010 it will be 1,7 million (Unicef, "Children on the Brink 2002"). One of the main issues is that our children are our future and the foundation of a new society. If we don’t take care of these children we will have an unstable society in the future. Children need to be brought up with love and attention, which is very difficult when we think of orphans, street children, orphanages etc. That’s why it is so important that orphans can be brought up in an as natural environment as possible, a family run by at least one parent. More and more organisations are trying to create this environment for orphans. One of these organisations is the Durban Children’s Society. One of their projects is a (designated) one-parent household with 6 children. One of the advantages is that orphaned siblings can stay together and live a normal family life in the community. This project has been sponsored by the Dutch multinational Unilever. Maybe a step in the right direction for other corporates to get involved in such projects as above.

In South Africa OVC’s can get partial or complete exemption from paying school fees based on the income of their guardian/foster parent. The foster parent can claim grants they might qualify for:

  • The Child Support Grant: This is given to a primary caregiver that cares for a child/children who are under the age of seven (As of February 2003 the age limit has been moved up to 14). The caregiver can be the mother, father, grandparent, relative, friend or older brother/sister
  • The Foster Child grant: This is for children who are placed with a person who is not the parent, such as a grant parent. A court must endorse the foster relationship. (Department of Social Development, South Africa 2002).

For more information you can contact the Department of Social Development at 0800 601 011 (toll free) or visit the website at www.socdev.gov.za

In South Africa VSO/RAISA has placed volunteers in organisations that work with orphans and abandoned children such as the Durban Children’s Society, Leamogetswe Safety Home and Moretele Sunrise Hospice.

RAISA also has sponsored food garden projects through the Small Grant Fund for home-based care projects and a Safety Home taking care of OVC’s. Also a workshop on herbal medicine gardening has recently taken place.

For the study tour in Uganda, RAISA South Africa had a representative from Durban Children’s Society and Moretele Sunrise Hospice. Aspects of learning from this tour were among others the "Perma Culture Programmes" and the "Memory Box Programmes". Both participants are planning to implement these programmes into their own organisations. For any reporting on this tour please contact Carine.Munting@vsoint.org

Zambia
One serious consequence of AIDS deaths of men and women in their prime childbearing ages is an increase in the number of orphans. Two years ago, in 2001, there were about 572,000 orphans as a result of AIDS. The number is expected to rise to 836,000 by 2010 (Unicef ). Therefore, the cumulative number of children orphaned by the epidemic is much higher than can be seen at any one point in time. The central statistics office (Government body) estimates the number total number of orphans in Zambia to be about 650,000. There is already a tremendous strain on social systems to cope with such a large number of orphans and provide them with needed care and supervision. With the breaking down of the extended family systems due to urbanisation and prolonged economic pressures, most orphans have no option but to seek survival on the streets and others are forced to take up the roles of adults to head households. At the community and national level, there is already an increased burden on society to provide services for these children, including orphanages, health care and school fees. Many orphans will never receive adequate health care and schooling, increasing the burden on society. The present Zambian government have as from last year introduced free basic education (i.e. first seven years of schooling). This is hoped that this will give orphans access to education and easy the burden for guardians. The implementation of this policy is still under way. Communities have also simply decided to get on board and supplement the government efforts through introduction of community schools. The question of the quality of education offered remains unanswered. A number of local and international NGOs have identified vulnerable children and orphans as a social priority area and are enhancing implementation of strategic plans to support the management of this problem. Among such organisations that are helping in Zambia are the EU, UNICEF, Christian AID, Oxfam, Zamsif, and VSO that provide technical support through volunteers and other tools such as small grants and mainstreaming. For more info please contact Chad.Kalobwe@vsoint.org

Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe the statistics showed that in 2001 there were 782,000 AIDS orphans and for 2010 the expectations are almost 1,2 million (Unicef ). There is a growing realisation that as part of the fight against stigma and discrimination, communities should support initiatives, which can enable OVCs to go to school. It is important that OVCs have as normal school lives as possible, so that they can benefit from formal education and develop socialisation skills in order to cope with their predicaments. Seven RAISA small grants were disbursed in March 2003 and the activities will be reported on during the current financial year. At least five of these disbursements to partners target OVCs through various community-based initiatives. Some grants have been used for children to attend schools and wear school uniforms.

Currently, the only grants available for those who take care of orphans are being accessed through the Aids Levy, which is administered by the National AIDS Trust Fund (NATF).
Plans are in place, funds permitting, to set up a Child Welfare Fund where resources from various stakeholders and Government will be pooled together and distributed to those involved in childcare and protection.

The Government Department of Social Welfare, whose mandate is the care and protection of children, has an operational manual on care and advocacy issues of OVCs. The Zimbabwe National Strategy on Children in Difficult Circumstances. There is still need for its wider distribution, translation into the vernacular and discussion on the implications of this document among stakeholders.

There are Government plans to set up a Child Welfare Council for coordinating and monitoring child welfare Issues. The Government is also advocating for the greater involvement of traditional leaders in communities so that they can facilitate OVC birth registration and obtaining of birth certificates for OVCs to gain entry into the formal education system.

The two Zimbabwe delegates (Joyce Chavarika and Eliam Mahohoma) for the study tour to Uganda, represented a Children’s Home (Matthew Rusike Children’s Home), which is based near Harare, and one community based project operating in the provinces (Rural Unity for Development Organisation). For more info please contact nhatendi@ecoweb.co.zw

Namibia
In Namibia there were about 47,000 orphans in 2001. For 2010 the expectations are 118,000. This with a total population of only 1.5 million. Last year a small community group (TOV Multipurpose Group) received a RAISA small grant. This group was newly formed and its main purpose was to help provide care and support to the increasing number of orphans in their community. Through the RAISA grant the organisation started a feeding programme. 30 children are now fed 3 meals a day 7 days a week. Since then RAISA has been able to provide further assistance by providing clothing and volunteers to help out with their school holiday programme. Since this first application for OVC support RAISA Namibia has continued to offer support to similar small, possibly high risk organisations such as AIDS Orphan Trust, Omaheke Gospel Trust, Mother’s Voice and KWID so that they can provide desperately needed care and support for other children affected by AIDS. In Namibia the government provides free primary school education, however, often these schools charge enrolment fees, examination fees and costs for textbooks and stationary. These expenses can prevent children affected by the pandemic from having access to education. Legislation currently being drafted should help improve this situation as well as providing support benefits for caregivers of affected children so the burden is decreased. The two participants who joined the UNASO study tour from Namibia are from the Catholic AIDS Action who has the largest OVC support programme in Namibia. For more info please contact Lisa.Davidson@vsoint.org

Malawi
Currently Malawi has approximately a total of 500,000 orphans who have either lost one or both parents. Out of this about 65,000 are infected with HIV/AIDS. The predictions are there will be 741,000 AIDS orphans by 2010 (Unicef ). Currently there are 97 community-based organisations working with orphans and 20% are offering education support. Interestingly a ratio of 0.94 orphaned to non-orphaned children is attending school. The community-based organisations are affiliated to the Government Social Welfare Department. VSO supports three District Social Welfare Departments through provision of volunteers to work on child welfare and OVC.

One of the lessons that Desmond Mhango from the Centre for Youth and Children Affairs learnt from the UNASO Study tour is about the Mobile Schools. Desmond is interested in modifying what he is currently doing with orphans, and incorporating the mobile schools model. According to Desmond, this is a school which is taken to the community, identifies orphans, trains them in skills development such as farming, and provides life skills lessons and assists in marketing of the products that the orphans produce. For more info please contact Steve.Tahuna@vsoint.org

Mozambique
In Mozambique there are about 418,000 orphans today and by 2010 one expects over one million (Unicef).

In Mozambique there are no grants to be given as such to care givers of OVCs, however organisations such as NGOs and CBOs, which work in Home Based Care and counseling and train care givers give these volunteer-caregivers an incentive which is food (rice, sugar, mealie –the basic) and other organisations give money (a small stipend).

Regarding government, the Ministry of Women and Coordination for Social Action, which is working with the World Food Programme, is supporting OVCs in terms of food supplies; The Ministry of Health supports OVCs by giving free access to health services; The Ministry of Education allows free access to education for orphans. Apart from NGOs and Government, the Church has a very important role, whereby orphans are taken care of by the Sisters in Children’s Homes and where they have access to food, education, health care and shelter, all for free. RAISA

intervention has taken place at DPMCAS Sofala, the Provincial representation of the Ministry for Women and Coordination of Social Action in Sofala Province by placing a volunteer, Ignatius. Ignatius has been working along side with local colleagues on designing and conducting a survey on OVC’s. The outcome of the study is that DPMCAS has an accurate knowledge on the OVC situation in the province and this has encouraged partners to support activities on OVC’s in the province. Another organisation, which has been working with RAISA is ASVIMO, a humanitarian organisation working with widows, elderly and vulnerable children. Through a volunteer and a RAISA grant a programme was started on social and psychosocial support for people (mainly children) living with AIDS.

With the study tour to Uganda it was Doroteia Balane, the chairperson of the association for the support and development of AIDS orphans and Maximo Bonifacio, the Head of the Social Action department who represented Mozambique. For more info please contact Clara.Makulube@vsoint.org

Resources
Books:

  • The Sourcebook
    It documents 13 education based HIV/AIDS prevention programmes targeting children and youth from seven sub-Saharan African countries. It is sponsored by UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA, DFID, USAID, Ireland Aid and the World Bank. The Sourcebook is available on line. You may download it from any of the following websites:
  • Videos:
    • Karate Kids
      It is a cartoon, which may go together with a book : what we need to know about AIDS
      The video is good for those who work with OVCs especially children on the street. It can be obtained from Media for development; email
      mfd@mango.zw or mfd@samara.co.zw
    • Just a little Smile
      The video explores ways of building resilience of small children and changing patterns of care giving through a unique pairing of OVCs with rural youth. Email Lrichter@hsrc.ac.za
  • Websites:

Visit the VSO Zimbabwe fact sheet

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