In November 2013 I visited the Hospital to thank Dr Neela for her care of Silas when he was terminally ill and in great pain. During that visit I learnt that the Hospital had developed an OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) program in response to the large number of children in the area orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. These children are vulnerable on many counts. There are no orphanages so children are absorbed into other families (where they are not necessarily safe) or left to fend for themselves. The incidence of child rape is very high. Many are HIV+. Many have to care for a sick parent or an aged grandparent. Many become ‘head of household’ and have to look after younger siblings. They have no income. They are malnourished. They drop out of school.
The program provides school fees and supplementary food for orphans but relies on overseas sponsorship. There are over 1000 children on the data base; sponsorship for 400 of those through an Italian organisation had been secured. I took on sponsorship of a hundred children under that program.
Sponsorship covers (usually) primary school fees for a year, school uniform, a pair of shoes, stationery, and supplementary food.
In 2014 I calculated that it cost me US$260 to sponsor one child for the year.
In 2015 the costs remained about the same.
In 2016 the costs remained about the same.
The hospital is always looking for more sponsors.
In order to supplement my now limited funds so that these projects can continue, various fundraising initiatives have been undertaken. I’m deeply grateful to friends and contacts who have chosen to help.
Some of my friends have taken on sponsorship of one child or several children, a wonderful response that I could not have anticipated.
The sponsorship program continues. Many of the children have now been sponsored for several years. We’re always seeking new sponsors!