“I hated my mum for lying to me about my HIV status. I did not understand what it was and kept talking about it as if it is just any other diseases only to be shunned by peers afterwards,” one OVC said.

The OVCs expressed their different experiences on how they are perceived by the peers and community at large during their counselling workshop held earlier this year.

The Provision of Orphans and Vulnerable Children project under LARS held a series of workshops for OVCs, parents and guardians. The aim of the workshops was to train children, parents and guardians on care and treatment for all the children living with HIV and AIDS.

The first workshop was for the children alone and this what they revealed about their lives;

“We are ill treated, shunned from home to school. My guardians tell me that i cannot share utensils with my cousins who are his kids because I am HIV positive”, one said.

Children did not like the manner at which their guardians called them when it was time to take medication. These annoying words include ‘‘tloho u tlo koma poone”, literally meaning come and have your corn. The children did not like that because they said it discloses their status.

After receiving counselling, the children’s parents and guardians attended their workshop where they revealed that they were not aware that what they were saying or doing was ostracizing and scorning the children.

In response to the concerns of the children; the parents as well as the guardians however emphasized that they did not mean any harm nor disrespect the kids., “It is just a common way of asking someone to take their medication in our community”, they said.

Regarding the sharing of the utensils; it was noted that the guardian; man who took the child under his wings refused his children to share utensils with his niece nor did he attend any counselling sessions with her. He always claimed that he was busy looking after his animals.

However, a few visits to the uncle now has changed his  attitude and understands better what is going on, what is HIV and AIDS and how to look after his niece.

The current picture today after the workshops is that children are now freely attending the Teens Clubs in their villages and their guardians as well as the parents accompany them to the clubs.

The Teen Club is a club where the HIV positive children take their medication and talk about their experiences. These meetings are usually held on Saturday when they are not going to school.

Previously, according to the Project Ms Ntho Mokone; other teens were not attending the Saturday meetings because they did not want others to know their status.

Facilitators of the workshop were Baylor and LRCS.

In addition, to getting the counselling, the OVCs also received educational support.

The objective of the project is to improve the quality of life for orphans and vulnerable children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS by addressing the physical, psychological, emotional and material needs of the children through provision of integrated community home based care and support