ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN
The overall goal of this program is to improve the well-being and protection of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Kenya by building the capacity of families and communities to cope and to respond to the needs within their households and communities.
Several donors funded the OVC program in 2009.
These include Academy for Educational Development’s (AED) Capable Partners Program; APHIA II Eastern through AMREF; The Coca Cola Africa Foundation; Stephanie and Larry Flynn Jr. Trust Fund, and Shell Foundation.
To achieve this goal, the program works under four strategic objectives:
a) Increasing comprehensive and integrated care and support for orphans and vulnerable children.
Activities focus on providing essential services to orphans and vulnerable children: The program provides support in nutrition, medical access, education and vocational training, psychological support, and prevention of HIV infection. Clothing, beddings and access to drinking water is also provided to families.
The children are identified through kids clubs formed in communities by service providers who have been trained in the provision of psychosocial support.
A Kids Club is a weekly meeting for children where they meet to play and do other activities designed to help them deal with emotional issues and build their self esteem, develop life skills, talents and leadership skills.
These children are placed in the food program, to help them and their families to get at least one decent meal a day. The service providers also identify children that need support at educational level; for example school levies, school uniforms and/or learning materials.
b) Strengthening the capacity of families to care and support orphans and vulnerable children.
Several trainings are conducted for caregivers designed to help them support children more effectively as well as care for other caregivers who may be sick in their midst. Training in Psychological Support and Memory Book Writing equips them with skills to meet psychological needs of children.
In a memory book, the caregiver shares with the child significant events and information including among others; key milestones in the child’s life, the family tree, and significant people that the child can turn to for help.
The caregivers are also trained in home-based care and anti-retroviral (ARV) adherence counseling so as to support those amongst them that need these services. In order to help caregivers to be less dependent on external support, trainings in entrepreneurship have been conducted and caregivers linked to income generating opportunities.
c) Mobilizing and strengthening community-based orphans and vulnerable children’s responses.
In order to ensure sustainability of support for OVC, service providers that include teachers, community youth, and workers in children’s homes, members of faith-based and community-based organizations are trained and mentored.
The trainings include provision of Psychosocial Support, Basic Skills for Counseling Children, and Kids Clubs Management. The trained providers then form Kids Clubs within their communities.
These Kids Clubs besides being avenues for provision of psychosocial support also serve as entry points where community members can refer OVC for support.
The service providers also form Community Child Care Forums (CCCFs) that meet on monthly basis to discuss issues affecting children. The recommendations from these deliberations are shared with the District Children Officers and other relevant stakeholders that are able to provide support and guidance.
d) Strengthening the Capacity of Child Serving Organizations to care for orphans and vulnerable children.
This fourth strategy was introduced in response to a gap that was identified in the program. It was realized that although most community-based organizations play major roles in supporting OVC, they lacked capacity in several areas.
Some of the areas where this capacity gap has been supported include governance, financial management, general programming, and monitoring and evaluation.
The program operates at schools, in churches and within the community where staff of HOPE worldwide Kenya and trained volunteers work closely with the children, families and communities.