In India, more than 70,000 children in India are HIV positive and another 21,000 are added through Mother to Child Transmission every year (NACO) and approx. 73% of infected children do not receive treatment. While the number of AIDS orphans is expected to double in next five years the pervasive stigma surrounding HIV has only grown wider and most orphanages are not willing to care for children who test positive.
The Naz Foundation (India) Trust with the support of the American India Foundation (AIF) works specially to discuss and form initiatives around the Care and Protection of OVCs (orphaned and vulnerable children.) On the 10 and 11 of February 2011, at Shanti Ashram, Coimbato a consultation to address these care facilities was held in partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The main objective of this consultation was to focus on OVCs and initiatives working towards addressing their needs in the context of HIV. It drew upon on the strength of organizations working at the grassroots level with children living with HIV and gave them an opportunity to share their experiences and gather information with which to evaluate their practices. It offered a platform for organizations to discuss their concerns, problems and anxieties to help develop a comprehensive training manual for the capacity building of care home staff.
The deliberations also looked at the different aspects of institutional care – support for orphaned children, OI management and guidelines on pediatric ART and adherence, psychosocial needs and issues related to adolescence, nutrition, foster care, child rights and career.
A care home is a place where the orphaned CLHIV can live and get the much needed care, support and treatment. It must not be an institution but a home where all children have a fundamental right to a loving, fun-filled childhood with access to health, education and a safe, stigma-free environment. Therefore the following facilities should be available in a care home:
- Providing psycho-social counseling to the children
- Schooling facilities for children to regularly attend classes. Special attention to students who are weak in studies with tuitions.
- Medical care to ensure decrease in occurrence of opportunistic infections
- Providing supervision for those on anti-retroviral therapy
- Home-cooked meals emphasizing well-balanced nutrition
- Recreational facilities, including play time, outing and extra-curricular activities.
Many of the care homes are unable to provide the abovementioned facilities due to various constraints, given their limited human and financial resources. Some of the Centres are still running in a charity mode with the caregivers unaware of rights based approach. Therefore, there is an urgent need to train caregivers in the care and management of children living with HIV/AIDS in institutional settings so that the children are provided proper care.
In order to have an effective training, AIF and Naz hope to develop a training manual based on the needs of the hour emerging from the experiences of different organizations and Naz India’s experience of running a care home for orphaned children living with HIV. Naz India has conducted a desk review/ literature survey of the available materials and literature and hope to finish the manual soon and with your sponsorship can effectively train and educate staff to care and give them the proper tools and resources to help this marginalized group of children.
What is sponsorship?
• $25: Bring a change in the life of one child
• $50: Sponsor a meal for all at the Care Home
• $125: Get 5 friends to donate $25 each to support an outing for all the children
• $300: Get 6 friends to donate $50 each to sponsor medications, hospital visits and tests for a child for one year
Stories from the Naz Care Homes:
Cheerful Roza, eight years old, joined the Naz family at the young age of three. She came to us malnourished, as there was no one left in the family to care for her. Her mother had passed leaving Roz orphaned at an age when children need their mothers the most, two. The whereabouts of her father is unknown. Some loving friends of her mother cared for and looked after the child until they decided that Naz would give her a brighter future. The decision of these people to bring Roza to Naz has benefitted her in many ways.
Going to school in grade 3, Roza is studying towards a promising future. Her favourite subject in school is English and she aspires to one day be an English teacher. She loves the colour red and enjoys drawing and colouring with the other children. Roza also likes story reading and playing with her younger siblings. As she speaks and understands English, she is also a great friend to many of the volunteers, translating what the younger kids say. She certainly has a caring personality and likes to have fun. We love seeing her grow up and our hopes are that she will become what she wants, whether it be English teacher or anything else.
It seems like not long ago that Saurabh Singh was a seven year old boy getting used to his new home at Naz. But after ten years, Saurabh is already looking forward to his 18th birthday!
Our eldest, he has been a leader at the care home and was elected as Head Boy of his school. For the past year, he had been studying diligently for his 10th board exams, which he sat for this spring. Though a bit nervous in the days coming up to his big test, he performed well – just as we had all expected! He secured over 72 percent in his Boards!
Saurabh, who has always had a knack for computers, is currently working to become a computer teacher. In April, he enrolled in a vocational training programme at an NGO in Faridabad. He looks forward to completing his education through open schooling. His teachers report that he is doing well in his new training and Saurabh is excited to be working in an area that he loves!