Christmas celebration came early when parent and guardians of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) of Kena Constituency were relieved that they will start a new year without worrying about school uniform

Over a hundred Orphans and Vulnerable Children from 52 villages in Kena constituency received their school uniform over the weekend.

The parents and guardians expressed their gratitude to the Red Cross saying they are going to have a beautiful Christmas knowing the education of the children is covered.

They however, requested food for the children especially those on ARVs.

In addition, the Health and Social Services Coordinator Ms Moluoane Ramakhula said in addition to the uniform the children have received this year, the projects have been assisting them with the following;

  • educational support where a total of 40 children were supported with school fees in 12 different high schools.”
  • 32 children (22 girls and 10 boys) from eight schools in Kena attended a five-day peer education training of trainers’ workshop.

The aim of the training was to select at least 19 participants who would be trainers while 13 others would be peer educators.

“Through these trainings and peer education, children gained skills to make better sexual reproductive decisions and better choices in life” Moluoane added.

Other activities of the Project included renovating the houses of some the OVCs, giving them food parcels (maize meal25 kg, flour 25 kg, beans21).

Kids’ Clubs

There are also 21 Kids’ Clubs comprising of 756 children; 467 are girls and 289 are boys. The Kids are aged between 5 and 12 years. The purpose of the Kids’ Clubs is to give the children a place where they discuss issues that affect them in schools, in their homes and in their communities. They meet every Saturday for sports, storytelling, craft activities and memory work.

“These games they play encourage them and empower them on how to deal with their daily challenges. This is a safe space for them where they discuss issues openly and thoughtfully. The impact has been incredible. During monitoring visits, it was noted that children are more open to discuss their emotional problems. They are able to open up and play with each other which was something they were not able to do at first”, she added.

On these weekly meetings the kids’ clubs are supported with food by Logos Rhema Ministries international Church, ‘manna packs.  This is one of the things that bring children who are not OVC to the kids’ clubs. So, it solves issues of stigma, Moluoane said.

Access to health and paediatric ART

Working together with the Kena Health Centre the programme has helped children to go through voluntary counselling and testing, and two were initiated on ARTS.

In addition, the children receive ongoing education of HIV, Tuberculosis and psycho-social support for those who meet to do their homework.

Another component of the Project is to have exchange visits with other children with the aim of learning from one another. on these visits it was discovered that the caregivers too meet regularly to learn from each other and needed their number to increase.

The Grannies Clubs:

The Project also has a component of Grannies Clubs because the children are left with them when the parents pass away and leave their dwellings looking for jobs in the city.

There are Five (5) grannies clubs made up of 20 members per group. The grandparents meet monthly where they do Income Generating Activities. “They make traditional brooms, grass mats and other traditional arty facts. The money collected is used to help the OVCs with their needs,” Moluoane said.

Club members also help each other with emotional challenges they endure when taking care of their orphaned grandchildren. When not working, grannies engage in traditional songs and Mokhibo dance to up lift their spirits. When doing this joy and laughter is seen on their faces of the grandmothers; they even start sharing openly their stories. PSS is impacting positively on the lives of the most vulnerable as it was seen in many field visits.

CONCLUSION

“We are grateful that the Project is making such a huge difference in the lives of the most vulnerable children. The community is very appreciative of the work being done by the Society even though there is one still outstanding challenge; lack of food. This poses an immediate and clear danger for children living with HIV who take ARTs and children from Child Headed Households both staying in boarding schools and at home. We appeal for additional assistance for these children some of whom  have been left for a long time by their parents,” the Health and Social Services Coordinator Ms Moluoane Ramakhula concluded.

The Kena OVC project is funded by LARS through the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies since 2012.