Hope for AIDS orphans

NAMIBIA: Hope for AIDS orphans

©  WFP/Richard Lee

The number of orphans is expected to rise to around 200,000 over the next five years

WINDHOEK, 28 Sep 2005 (PLUSNEWS) - As the number of AIDS orphans in Namibia climbs steadily, caregivers are turning to each other for emotional support.

Once a week a group of grandmothers and foster parents meet in the shade of a tree in Katutura, a suburb of the capital, Windhoek, to share their experiences of caring for parentless children, some of whom are also infected with the HI virus.

Sixty-year-old Barbara Shiikwa was forced to provide for her seven orphaned grandchildren after three of her daughters died of AIDS-related illnesses.

"The counselling has given me hope and has helped me come to terms with the loss of my daughters. Four of my grandchildren are always sick," Shiikwa told PlusNews.

A few metres from the gathering, around 20 orphans are being temporarily sheltered at the Baby Haven centre while suitable foster homes are found for them.

Baby Haven was set up just two years ago as part of a community outreach programme but has managed to place orphans with over 100 families.

According to official statistics, Namibia's orphan population is expected to reach 200,000 over the next five years, with the burden of responsibility for the children expected to be shared among family members.

Agnes Tom, a community co-ordinator at the Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN), explained that the centre always tried to locate the children's relatives, in the hope that they would provide a suitable home, but most children ended up in the care of grandmothers and foster families.

Volunteers from Baby Haven make frequent visits to foster families, offering assistance such as baby formulas and toiletries. "Whenever we get anything to share, we share it with the families," said Tom. The centre also provides food packs to other vulnerable children.

Tom pointed out that the centre had been instrumental in identifying and assisting children in Katutura, who sometimes found themselves in desperate situations.

Last year the centre assisted four children aged between four and 12 years who had been begging for money to buy a coffin to bury their mother.

"We bought the coffin, arranged for the funeral and finally managed to trace the children's grandmother, who agreed to take them in," Tom said.


[Back] [Home Page]

Click here to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about PlusNews Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to Webmaster

Copyright © IRIN 2006
The material contained on www.PlusNews.org comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
All PlusNews material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.