Community-based approach developed for orphan care
Friday 26 March 2004
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SOUTH AFRICA: Community-based approach developed for orphan care

JOHANNESBURG, 13 February (PLUSNEWS) - An innovative pilot project by SOS Children's Villages Association of South Africa to provide community-based care for children orphaned by AIDS is underway in the rural community of QwaQwa, in Free State province.

"This pilot project represents a departure from our traditional, residential childcare model - an SOS Village," said Eugene Absolom, national director of the association.

"As communities' coping mechanisms are stretched with the growing number of orphans, this new approach will strengthen those mechanisms, supporting community-based solutions ... and children will remain in their community of origin," Absolom told PlusNews.

The pilot aims to ensure that long-term, family-based care is provided to orphaned and vulnerable children through four "family units", based on an innovative form of foster care known as the "community family model".

Up to six children are placed with a foster mother in a house that is owned, equipped and furnished by SOS. To provide for each of the children entrusted to her care, the foster mother, who is a volunteer from the local community, receives an allowance from SOS to supplement the foster care grant from the government.

Five children were placed in the programme even before its official launch - an indication of the extreme need - and the homes are expected to reach their full capacity of six children each during 2004.

An assistant foster mother, who also receives an allowance, helps the foster mother and relieves her whenever she is away from the home. The house is within the community, and community leadership structures participate in the establishment and development of the homes.

The new approach, developed in partnership with the South African Department of Social Development and the QwaQwa community, evolved out of a dire need for additional support to care for the growing number of HIV/AIDS orphans in the community.

In a recent study on the impact of HIV/AIDS on households in QwaQwa, it was found that 30 percent of children under 15 years of age had lost their mother or father, and five percent had lost both parents. In the same study, 30 percent of households were discovered to be sheltering at least one orphan.

The Free State has the second-highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate out of South Africa's nine provinces.

SOS is developing community-based childcare and -support programmes, hand in hand with local community childcare forums, that will offer vulnerable children an alternative to the more impersonal state-run childcare system. Activities are designed to support, strengthen and empower families and communities to protect and care for their children.

"More specific programmes will depend upon local needs, priorities and existing resources that we will discover as we go. Needs, priorities and community resources will be assessed by carrying out an in-depth baseline survey and needs assessment," explained SOS social centre manager, Gcotyiswa Mtiya.

"Programmes will specifically target orphan-headed households and those with terminally ill parents or caregivers," she added.

SOS anticipates that these programmes will reach as many as 500 affected and infected orphans and vulnerable children in approximately 125 families by the end of 2004.

[ENDS]

Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports

Cautious optimism over AIDS drug rollout, 18/Mar/04
Anti-HIV programme fails rape victims, 4/Mar/04
Mobile clinic provide sex workers with health care, 4/Mar/04
Paramedics protest "condom" memo, 27/Feb/04
ARV drug rollout urgently needed, says lobby group, 25/Feb/04

Links

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS
Making A difference for Children Affected by AIDS
Children and AIDS International Non-Government Organisation Network (CAINN)
AIDS Orphans Assistance Database

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

PARTNERS

PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • UNAIDS

  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)

  • SAfAIDS

  • PANOS

  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development
    Network

  • GTZ/Afronets


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