ORPHANS & VULNERABLE CHILDREN
Philani's Outreach Workers find many children made vulnerable by being orphaned, abandoned or neglected. HIV/AIDS is a major factor in such situations where both parents have died, in most cases of AIDS. Child-headed households are frequently found, with children as young as 13 caring for younger siblings and other children; in other cases, elderly women are left to raise abandoned children. In response to this situation, our Outreach Workers have been collecting and recording information about such children since 2006, and in June 2008 Philani launched a programme dedicated to addressing their needs.
Philani’s philosophy is to support men and women in the community to care for orphans and vulnerable children in their homes, without resorting to orphanages.
The Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme (OVC), based at the Development Center in Khayelitsha, opened its doors in 2008 with the employment of a Coordinator who was responsible for the start up of the programme. In 2009 a Social Worker joined the programme creating our OVC team.
The staff of this programme are dedicated to ensuring that each family unit has access to financial support offered by the government, that children are enrolled at pre-school or school, that firm links are made with family, care groups or faith based organisations, and that adequate housing is found for the family. In addition, Philani strives to help each child establish goals and plans for the future.
The Coordinator visits 5-6 families a day to establish the socio-economic situation of each family, to which grants they are entitled and what government or other support they are receiving. She also establishes the health and nutrition status of children in the family, whether they are attending school or pre-school, and what support networks are available to them. A support plan is then put in place to help the family, and to support the caregivers to access the resources available to them. The Coordinator carries out follow up visits as necessary.
Resources to improve housing for such households are important, as, particularly in the case of child-headed households, accommodation is usually temporary and of poor quality. The programme also provides resources for the education and health-care of orphans and vulnerable children.