SOS has projects helping more than 48,000 African Children orphaned by AIDS in more than twenty African countries, and is growing as rapidly as its resources allow it. This help consists of practical help, food, medicine and love.
SOS Children has developed a strategy for AIDS orphans in Africa that does not move children from their familiar background but works to strengthen their communities so that they can support them.
SOS Children started its HIV/AIDS programs in four countries of Central and West Africa. These countries are Burundi, Rwanda, Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Approximately 1,300 children have been registered in these countries. The children, mostly AIDS orphans and those living with one or both parents in terminal phase comprise the bulk of the persons serviced in these countries by the HIV/AIDS programs.
Initially the focus of these programs is on medical assistance, payment of school fees, donations of clothes and foods, regular visits to the patients, as well as activities of information, education and communication.
More recently, programs were begun in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Niger and Nigeria.
Planning of the follow-up stages of these current programs was begun in May 2004.
The SOS HIV-AIDS orphan programme is targeting vulnerable families and communities, with the hope of helping them "improve their capacities of protecting themselves and of taking care of their children." One of the major goals is the prevention of child abandonment, which is one of the principal causes of mortality and of family disintergration in Central and West Africa related to HIV/AIDS.
SOS also promotes a community development program, which will be based on partnership and resource seeking to finance its actions. This is done in parallel with the HIV-AIDS orphan program. The countries in which the programs are located have identified target groups and done small-scale income generating projects with them. Examples of some of these income-generating projects include field projects, livestock projects and the training of women and young women in sewing, cooking and other domestic skills.
SOS feels that it is essential to work with the community in equal partnership in these programs and to come up with lasting solutions capable of ensuring independence and autonomy.
Unfortunately, many of those affected with HIV/AIDS are the parents of young children. And when parents start to develop full-blown AIDS, they cannot work, and need to be cared for. This burden often falls upon the children because the situation is so bad that no adults are able to help. Not only do the children suffer the pain of seeing their parents become weaker and weaker but they must also find the means to care for themselves and their parents.
While historically the main model for orphan-care has been by the provision of an entirely new home, SOS Children has tried to be innovative in order to avoid separating the children from their family and wider community. SOS believes that "admission of children in an SOS Children's Village should not be foreseen unless the 'SOS family' is the best place to correspond to the children's needs". This is keeping with its "prevention of child abandonment" strategic initiative, and its "international participation and partnership" initiative, which are its primary directives.
Some of the innovative projects aimed at supporting the communities in their efforts to hold together are the:
Social and Medical Clinic for Street Children in Lusaka, Zambia
In Zambia, where HIV/AIDS have led to around 75,000 homeless African children, SOS Children is supporting a project in Lusaka to support about 1,000 street children. SOS Children will provide mobile education facilities and give street children the social center access for shelter, education and also training in vocational skills. The social center will also provide hot nutritional food, washing facilities and clean clothes.
Heaven of Hope Programme, Mamelodi, South Africa
By some accounts, 10% of the population of South Africa will be orphans by 2010. SOS Children is working In Mamelodi Township SOS Children is working to support 2,000 children through education, practical and emotional support to child and grandparent led families.
Family Carer Programme, Mbabane, Swaziland
Sidvwashini and Msunduza townships have an HIV/AIDS infection rate among the adult population that exceeds 25%. There, SOS Children is supporting a program that is helping child and grandparent headed families to stay together in a traditional community structure to prevent child abandonment.
More on the SOS Children AIDS ORPHANS PROJECT can be found at: