Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme
Poverty and HIV/AIDS are the two most influential factors on children living in South Africa today and are at the heart of our Orphans and Vulnerable children programme.
The UN estimates that more than half of the children in South Africa live in poverty. The HIV/AIDS epidemic which is sweeping the nation is leaving South Africa with a population of millions of orphans and vulnerable children. 1 in 5 children are orphans in South Africa and it is estimated that these figures will rise to 1 in 3 by 2015. (MRC, 2007)
Challenges faced by orphans and vulnerable children:
- They experience negative health, social and developmental outcomes resulting in poor school attendance and educational achievement
- They struggle to concentrate during lessons due to stress
- They have a lack of resources to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, education and health care
- They experience higher levels of stigma and bullying at school
- They are at a greater risk of abuse and mistreatment
- They have poor psychological and physical well-being.
Our Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme
Children living on their own in child headed households or in granny headed households are often neglected through poverty, poor education of their carers (if they have one), ignorance of their rights and abuse. Therefore the OVC programme is at the heart of the work of BSTrust, overseeing many of the programmes that our partners work with.
Through our partners, we have established Safe Parks; community buildings (often at a school) from where a range of programmes can be delivered. These childcare advocacy centres help the orphans and vulnerable children to navigate a better way through life through economic support, family support, feeding schemes and education.
From the Safe Parks, highly trained, local Child care advocates (CCA) work with the orphans and vulnerable children to build strong relationships with the children they work with, visiting them in their homes, at school and at the Safe Parks. The CCA's are often the only person these children fully trust and confide in and overtime they learn to share their problems with the childcare advocates in confidence.
The CCA's ensure that the children are fed and well looked after. Visiting them in their homes, the childcare advocates can take food parcels and link them into the feeding schemes within the safe parks. The after school provision within the safe parks provides the children with activities, help with their homework and often their only guaranteed meal of the day.
One of the major influences affecting orphans and vulnerable children is their access to the child grant. Every child is entitled to a child grant of around £28, however, many orphans and vulnerable children don’t have the correct paperwork in place in order to access it. The childcare advocates work with the families to gain their grants and ensure that their rights are understood.
Keeping the orphans and vulnerable children in education is also a key role of the childcare advocates. Orphans and vulnerable children are more likely to live in temporary households, moving from place to place and disrupting their schooling. They often need additional support to cope with the emotional demands of having lost their parents. Orphans and vulnerable children are less likely to attend school or miss it so it is vital for the childcare advocates to maintain consistency within their schooling and educational needs. The childcare advocates have access to hardship funds to help provide school uniforms and work closely with the schools to monitor the children’s education and emotional needs.
Sadly, many orphans and vulnerable children are at risk of abuse from families members and locals within the community as they are seen as easy targets. Rape and sexual violence amongst orphans and vulnerable children is on the rise within South Africa, fuelled by increasing levels of poverty. The childcare advocates follow the children’s cases who have been raped, they report them to the police and follow the cases through to conviction.