Power of Love Foundation

Our Mission is: To turn back the tide of the global AIDS epidemic through innovative community responses that increase the effectiveness of prevention and care efforts. Our Vision is: A world where the AIDS epidemic is in continuous retreat, and people living with HIV/AIDS have access to loving care and treatment in an environment free of stigma and discrimination.
Mar 15, 2015

"Safe Parks" Continue to Provide Children with a Fun Place to Play, Learn and Grow

About “Safe Parks”:  “Safe Park” is a program that is free and open to all children in the community of Matero in Lusaka, Zambia. The community of Matero is one of the largest (population of around 200,000) and poorest compounds in Lusaka, with an unemployment rate upwards of 60% and a high incidence of HIV and malaria. Most residents live on less than a dollar a day. Children growing up in this community are vulnerable to grief, distress and trauma (due to the loss of a parent/family member, the child herself being sick, lack of enough food etc.). “Safe Park” provides the children an opportunity for fun, and learning in a healthy environment. Trained child and youth care workers educate the children via games, drama, role play, poetry, and discussions on topics relevant to the children. Discussion topics with older children range from overall health, hygiene, prevention of HIV and malaria, to sexually transmitted diseases and safe sex. The younger children engage in drawing, coloring, soccer, playing with building blocks, singing and dancing. In addition, homework help is provided.  Family members of children who are not growing normally (physically or mentally) are counselled and referred to the appropriate agency for further assistance. Lastly, HIV+ expecting moms are counselled on how to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV so that they can deliver a baby who is free of HIV.

Impact: The younger children have fun and are able to play and learn in a safe environment. Discussion on sensitive topics with older children, leads to increased knowledge about HIV, reduces stigma and encourages them to adhere to their medication. Homework assistance helps the children do better at school, and provides an incentive to attend school every day. Family members are encouraged to go in for testing for HIV which is the first step toward prevention of HIV.

Overall, these games and activities improve the children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development and overall health. Better health leads to fewer missed days at school, and higher school performance. At the very minimum this program keeps children off the streets where they can get into trouble or get abused.   

Beneficiaries: Direct beneficiaries are about 75-80 children and families who participate each week. The beneficiary children range in age from two to sixteen years old. Indirect beneficiaries are family members who are counselled and referred to other agencies. At this time we have a total of about 760 children enrolled in this program.  

Next Steps: A few children who have graduated from our pediatric HIV care program after turning 18 years old, come back to mentor the younger children. They play games, help with homework, share their experiences, and encourage the children to take care of their health and stay in school.

Thanks for your support.

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Mar 1, 2015

We are adding more 50 New Children to our Pediatric HIV Care Program

As a result of your generosity and support, we will be adding 50 new HIV positive children to our program this month. The children have been identified and will be receiving food, medicines and a package of life saving health care services till they turn 18 years of age. The package of health care services includes weekly health visits from community health workers, regular visits from the Project Nurse, psycho-social counseling, education in HIV prevention, and adherence monitoring and training for older children. In addition, their caregivers (most are single moms and many are grandmothers caring for multiple orphans) will be undergo a five day training in caring for an HIV positive child.

Impact of this program: Once the child has been on our program for a few months, the child improves in health (as measured by a gain in weight/CD4 counts), and has fewer missed days from school due to sickness. In addition to improving the child’s health, the child’s family knows how to take care of the child, and other sick members in the family and understand the importance of keeping children in school. In addition, family members begin to come forward for testing for HIV, which is the first step in prevention of this disease. Finally, women on our program share their knowledge about caring for an HIV+ child and become role models for others in the community

Training to Caregivers: The goal of the training is to equip parents/guardians in basic nursing skills and psychosocial counseling so that the child is under the care of a trained caregiver 24/7.  Post training, parents/guardians are able to take care of different kinds of opportunistic infections that are common among HIV positive children at home and are able to identify situations when the child needs a higher level of care. As a result, most children to improve/stabilize in health and have fewer opportunistic infections once they have been on our program for 4-5 months. 

Profile of the New Children: Out of this group of 50 children, 33 children are female and the rest are male. The children range in age from two to sixteen years with a majority of them in the age range from 6-12 years and most between 2-16 years. Since most of the children are of school going age, we will ensure that the children attend school and also educate caregivers on the importance of keeping children in school. Our goal is for these children to stay heathy and graduate middle, and high school.

With the addition of these 50 children, we will have a total of 250 HIV+ children on our program. Every one of these 250 children will receive food, medicines and a package of life saving health care services. As a result, most children stabilize/improve in health, attend school and live close to normal lives so that they can grow up to become contributing members of their community.  

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Mar 1, 2015

Impact of Power of Love's Micro Loans Program

Micro Loans Empower Women

Micro loans programs provided to women to start small businesses have proven to be one of the most effective means of empowering women and teaching them self-reliance. By learning basic business practices, new women entrepreneurs are better equipped to run small businesses and are therefore able to take better care of their families. Power of Love’s micro loans program is located in the community of Matero, in Lusaka, Zambia. Matero is one of the largest and poorest compounds in Lusaka, with a population of approximately 85,000. This community is characterized by a high incidence of HIV and AIDS (prevalence rate of 14% among adults aged 15-49) and an unemployment rate upward of 60%.  As a result, most people are poor and live on less than $1 per day.  

Women in Matero regularly provide care for one or more sick family members. Loans and business training provided to women have enabled them to excel in this difficult environment by learning marketable skills and running a profitable small business, thereby supporting all dependents in the household.

Impact of Our Loans Program

Women who have graduated from our micro loans program have gained valuable experience and expertise in their line of business. They work hard to provide for their families and have gained self-confidence and become role models for others in the community. A majority of the women have started saving (either at home or via a bank account) and several women have found innovative ways to increase earnings from their businesses.

Most women in our loans program are able to take better care of their families in terms of nutrition and health, pay for school expenses, and understand the importance of keeping children in school. In addition, we are seeing a change in the attitude of the women - they are confident, have a plan for their future, and are on the path to self-reliance (both economic and social). More deatil on program impact is provided below.

Our Program is Unique

Loans provided to POL micro loan participants have immediate impact on the entire family as the program is completely integrated with Power of Love’s pediatric HIV care and malaria prevention programs. As such, the pediatric HIV care and malaria prevention programs provide micro loan recipients with the extra support they need (via food, medicines, packages of health care services and mosquito bed nets) while they learn how to run their businesses.  This significantly increases their chance of success in business.

Women and children have been disproportionately impacted by the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Africa; hence, they are the main beneficiaries of POL’s comprehensive programs. The vision behind all of our programs is to strengthen communities impacted by HIV and AIDS by empowering women.

Profiles of Women Entrepreneurs

Micro loan recipients range in age from 33 to 65 years old. Of these women, 70% are single or widowed. On average each woman cares for a total of 6 or more people, of which 5 are usually children. Prior to receiving a micro loan, fewer than 5% of these women had bank accounts.

The vast majority of the women use loan funds to start new businesses and or expand existing businesses. Businesses started with these loans are diverse and range from selling bananas along the roadside to brick-and-mortar stores selling cell phone chargers and accessories. Most businesses sell groceries, used shoes, toys, clothing, dried fish, charcoal, popcorn, mealie meal (a Zambian staple) etc. Many women distribute fish to local restaurants, fry donut-like snacks for stores, or make their own floor wax.

Direct Impact of our Loans Program in 2014

  1. Diet and Nutrition: Almost all 225 women on our program are able to provide two or more meals per day for their families as compared to one meal per day before they joined our program. 
  2. Schooling: Most women have been able to support their children with school requirements such as school fees, books, uniforms, shoes, pen/pencils, and transport money to those who go to school by public transport. In 2014, as a result of this program, 22 children were enrolled at the University, 123 children went back to school as their caregivers were able to pay school fees and/or school expenses, and 52 children have started grade one this month as their parents have saved money for their school requirements. In addition, 156 children will be able to continue their education as their caregivers were able to pay for school expenses (uniforms, shoes, books, and stationary). 
  3. Household purchases: A majority of the women were able to purchase household items such as TV stands, pressure cooker, Television, radios, DVD Machines, dinner set, cooking pot etc. These purchases would not have been possible without earnings from their businesses.
  4. Savings: About 175 women have been saving via bank accounts and an additional 40 women are saving at home. We are proud of these women who are saving a certain amount each week as this is a habit that is new to them. The amount saved each week is small, but it helps the women continue to run their business once they are weaned off the loan program, and take care of unexpected expenses.
  5. Capital Acquisition:
    • A group of 16 women pooled their savings to rent a piece of land for growing cotton and beans. These ladies got the idea from their mentors who themselves had purchased a piece of land for farming purposes and are doing well.
    • An additional 16 women have bought a piece of land each for purposes of constructing a house (for rent or as a home for themselves) as and when they have funds. Two of the ladies have laid the foundation for construction.
  6.  Business Expansion: Out of the total group of 225 women, 187 women have expanded their businesses and increased their capital by 50-60%. These dynamic ladies have invested funds in projects and products that will help sustain their businesses even after they are weaned off the loans program after three loan cycles. Moreover, they will continue to mentor new loan beneficiaries and have become role models for others in the community.
  7.  Prevention of HIV: As a result of discussions during weekly meetings 117 women have come forward for voluntary testing for HIV. This is encouraging as testing is the first step toward prevention of HIV.

Expected Impact in the Next 12-24 Months

In the next few months we expect more women to:

  • move out of selling out of their homes to a rented shop in the community marketplace which has higher foot traffic,
  • expand their business with the same type of goods,
  • expand and diversify into new line/lines of business,
  • purchase a shop instead of selling from a rented space.

The impact of our program goes beyond the economic benefits of increasing income and earnings in the short term. The long term impact of this program is to teach women how to build and run a successful business, save via bank accounts, and have the necessary capital to take charge of their lives and first steps toward self-reliance.

Next Steps

Our focus for 2015 and beyond is to continue to empower women by teaching them basic business practices and helping them run a profitable business so that they can become self-reliant. In addition, we are planning on providing 50 new loans in the spring of 2015.

Conclusion

Most women in our loans program are able to take better care of their families in terms of nutrition and health, pay for school expenses, and understand the importance of keeping children in school. In addition, we are seeing a change in the attitude of the women - they are confident, have a plan for their future, and are on the path to self-reliance (both economic and social).

Micro loans successfully enable women to engage in self-employment projects and set themselves on the road to self-reliance. These loans help a poor household meet basic needs and protect against unexpected expenses. For most women, there is a dramatic improvement in their standard of living and many are able to finally break the cycle of poverty. Finally, there is an improvement in gender inequality, economic welfare, and self-empowerment. We are confident that the outcomes of this program will be sustainable and permanent.  

Thanks for your support.

Loan recipient at her used shoes store
Loan recipient at her used shoes store

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