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African Orphan Outreach Programs

  • In Swaziland alone there are currently 70 000 orphans. Projections by the body coordinating the HIV/AIDS fight in Swaziland, the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS, show that the present figure will increase to 120 000 by 2010. Through different outreach programs by different organizations, something is being done to assist the growing number of orphans in Africa.

    Africans believe in the concept of "ubuntu", which is about having compassion and showing kindness to others. Africans also hold the belief that 'it takes a village to raise a child'. These beliefs have driven Africans in communities to easing the burden of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS as they have taken the children in offering them care and support. African orphan outreach has become partly a responsibility of the orphans' relatives, extended family and community.

    But that alone has not been enough as the number of orphans increases daily. Getbound Furthermore because of drought, poverty and other socio-economic crises, not many families in the communities are able to take care of orphans. Their poor economic situations make life difficult because with the little they have, they must also take care of their own children and families. These community outreach programs make a difference.

    At chiefdom level, there are also community based outreach programs such as the cultivation of fields to provide food for orphans. Chiefs provide a piece of land and government contributes funds for the purchase of farm implements and seeds for different crops including maize, sorghum and beans.

    The community members contribute vegetables, their time and their manpower to tend to the fields until the harvest is ready. When ready, the produce is shared equally amongst the orphan homes within the community and this is also facilitated at chiefdom level.

    Also, as part of community orphan outreach programs, governments with the cooperation of international agencies like UNICEF and the World Food Programme, have set up a network of volunteer-run neighbourhood care points (NCPs) in communities heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, where there are many orphans.

    This orphan outreach programme ensures that the children get a balanced meal, have companionship in a stable environment and experience some love and care from adults being the volunteers. Volunteers in a community can be from the community or any other community - as long as it is a willing somebody.

    The NCP's range from outdoor meeting points to small two-room buildings where orphans learn to count and read, eat two meals a day and receive health treatment from a mobile clinic operating out of a flatbed truck whenever available.