Thursday, September 25, 2008

Orphan Support Program

Project Kesho has been working to support the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) population at the Ulonge and Lundamatwe Primary Schools since the fall of 2007. The need in both these communities (as well as the rest of East and Southern Africa) is great. *Currently 12 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, and this number is expected to rise in the near future. *The percent of children in Tanzania under the age of 18 who have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS is 11%, while in the Iringa Region, where Project Kesho works, the percentage is 16.2%. *More than a quarter of the students attending primary school at either the Ulonge or Lundamatwe Primary Schools are orphans. Last fall we sponsored 35 students to attend secondary school who were unable to pay either because they are orphaned or vulnerable. This year we have been expanding our work to focus on the entire OVC population of the Lundamatwe village (which includes the Ulonge community). This program will consist of three distinct facets. The first will be the identification and training of local village volunteers to conduct home visits. Volunteers will be self-selected and suggested by key community leadership, including church ministers, school officials and council members. Project Kesho’s program associate and program staff member will use their contacts with the school and local churches to recruit willing volunteers, with the Tanzanian staff member serving as the program coordinator. The program coordinator will be responsible for managing the network of volunteers and providing administrative support to the network. Training will be provided to the volunteers. The second facet of this program is the creation of a sustainable animal farm to provide a source of food, education and income for this population of orphans. The goals of this farm will be to supply a sustainable and self-replicating way of providing nutritional support to both the orphans and their foster families and to provide a means for income generation for the orphans and their foster families. The third facet of this program will be to provide for the educational, health, and psychosocial needs of the orphans. The needs will be identified by the network of volunteers. Once the needs of the OVC's are identified they can be brought to the attention of the Program Coordinator and Project Kesho. We will then work to address these needs. The construction of the farm started in early July. The farm consists of building to house chickens and supplies, a fenced area for goats, and another fenced area for growing premium vegetables, which will be sold to local expats. The building to house chickens and supplies is now finished: The following picture shows the farm building under construction: We all pitched in to dig the hole for the bathroom at the farm (yes, this is becoming repetitive, but I think it highlights the lack of sanitary facilities all across Africa). This pictures shows summer volunteer (and all around cool guy) Sam Ziegler doing his share: The following are two pictures of some "helpers" that showed up: To begin to recruit volunteers for the home visiting network, we invited Furaha Dimitry, who is the Chairman of the Executive Committee of African Communities, a network of community-based organizations (CBO's) in Dar es Salaam to conduct a community meeting in Lundamatwe. Over 80 people showed up! Of the 80, 10 people expressed interest in joining a volunteer network to address the needs of the OVC's in their communities. Over the next couple of months we will be holding more meetings in other communities so that the network can be up and running by early 2009. Abbas is currently in Dar, training with Furaha and his CBO so that he can conduct future community meetings. Over 80 people in one classroom! This is Furaha leading the meeting:

No comments: