Safe parks for children impacted by HIV in Zambia

 
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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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The team at Power of Love would like to wish you a very happy holiday season and express our gratitude for your support throughout the year. Your donation has given the gift of happiness to children impacted/infected by HIV in Zambia. Please take a moment and treat yourself to this short video shot during our last field visit. We hope that you enjoy the video as much as we do.

Power of Love's Safe Parks program continues to improve the lives of several hundred children impacted by HIV/AIDS and malaria in Zambia. We could not have achieved our goals this year without each of you. 

Have a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends, and laughter!

                    THANK YOU

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Every Saturday morning, Power of Love's staff gathers together to play educational games and provide homework help to children impacted by HIV in a poor community in Zambia. This activity is a part of Power of Love's pediatric HIV/AIDS care program and is open and free for all children in the community of Matero, in Lusaka, Zambia. The children interact with their friends/peers by playing games, and participating in educational activities including help with homework. Older children who have graduated from this program come back to mentor younger children. At this time we have more than 700 children enrolled and every week 70-80 children participate in this program. The children look forward to this activity every week, are learning and having fun.

"Safe Parks" was created so that children have a comfortable and open place to play normally, have fun, and reinforce values of "living positive" and staying healthy. Second, our Nurse checks for normal mental and physical growth (during games and interaction) and counsels the family members as needed. 

We have a lot of fun playing and interacting with the children Some of our favorite games are:
Mulilo Kulupili (Fire on the Mountain): This simple game teaches problem solving by turning to peers, parents, teachers, care workers, or others around you for help. 
How To Play: Allow the children to run freely in a small area. As the children are running, one of the leaders continues to shout “Mulilo-Kulupili.” The children respond “Mulilo!” and then the leader announces a number, say 3 and the children and leaders must form a group of three.

Land Rover (Red Rover): This popular game teaches children that when facing obstacles, you must stay strong and work together.
How To Play: Split the children into two even groups, each forming a line opposite each other (approximately 15 meters or more), with each line joining hands. One group yells “Land Rover, Land Rover, send [insert child’s name from opposite group] right over!” The child who has been called must then run towards the opposite group and try and break through the line. If they succeed, they choose one person from this group and bring them back to their original group. If the child is caught in the line, without it breaking, they must stay with this group. Each group alternates until one group has all the children on its side.

Ship Ship Come Home: This is a problem-solving game, in which children learn that they can rely on friends around them to help solve problems. It helps children build resilience. 
How To Play: Divide the children into two groups. One group shouts to the other group “Ship ship come home!” and the opposite group will run to catch friends from the other side. The children who are caught will join the group which caught them.

10 to 1 Game: This game develops counting skills, and provides great exercise as well! 
How To Play: First pump your left arm 10x, followed by right arm 10x, then your left leg 10x, followed by your right leg 10x, counting out lead. Repeat by pumping each arm and leg 9x, then 8x, and so on.

Chili go go go Chilipaliwe: This game teaches children to assist each other when a friend or relative runs into a problem and needs help. 
How To Play: The children form a circle, with each child sitting facing the middle. Each child holds a small stone, and everyone starts chanting “go, go na go go” while passing a stone around to the next friend. The stones keep moving in the rhythm of the chant as it continues.

Thanks

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What is “Safe Parks”?

“Safe Parks” is a program free and open to all children in the community andaddresses some of the challenges (mental and physical) faced by children living in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia. This program provides the children with an opportunity for safe play, and psycho-social support in an environment which facilitates activities, discussions, and educational lessons. In addition, homework help is provided.  

A Typical Day at Safe Park: The children begin the day by singing and dancing - an ice breaker activity that helps their interaction with friends, and make new ones. This ice breaker is especially important for first time participants in the program. The trained CYCWs (Child and Youth Care Workers) assess individual needs as the children sing, dance and interact. The children are then separated into different groups based on age. Each group, supervised by a trained child and youth care worker, participates in age appropriate activities/discussions. During these sessions, child care workers discuss diverse issues important to the children, for example, overall health, HIV prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, cleanliness/hygiene, and the importance of adherence to medication and staying in school. In addition, homework help is provided to children who need it. Some children bring their books to Safe Park so that they can complete schoolwork with other children in the same grade and with our child care workers. Finally, a snack is provided as many children come to Safe Park without a meal.

Impact: Safe Park activities have several beneficial outcomes. First, children who have been living with HIV for a few years become role models for other children as they share experiences and underscore the importance of sticking to the medication regimen and even going in for appointments on their own. Second, school performance of many children has improved as a result of homework help and healthy interaction with other children. A few children have proudly displayed their grade cards to our child care workers. For example, 19 out of the 20 children who wrote their grade seven exams were promoted to grade eight. Similarly, nine out of the 10 children who wrote the grade nine exams were promoted to the next grade.  Third, Safe Park activities like reading aloud, drawing and coloring encourage early childhood learning among the younger children.

Safe Park activities benefit adults too by helping them understand the importance of keeping children in school, HIV testing, and antenatal visits for expecting moms (to prevent HIV infections in new born babies). Expecting moms who are HIV positive are counselled on prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and are referred to an ante-natal clinic.

Beneficiaries: The direct beneficiaries of this program are about 75-80 children and families who participate each week. A total of about 700 children are enrolled.

To sum, Safe Parks has gone a long way in helping children from the community of Matero, interact better with peers, families, and teachers at school, and express their thoughts and feelings. Children who attend Safe Park regularly, tend to have more friends, get into fewer fights, and are able to disclose cases of abuse at home to the child care worker. Our child care workers can then refer the case to the right counselor/agency.

Next Steps: A few older children who have graduated from high school have been mentoring the younger children by sharing their experiences, and helping with school work. We hope to make the mentoring component a permanent feature of this program.

Need for Funds: At this time we are raising funds to rent a bigger play area, and to provide a nutritious snack for the children every week. Please donate generously as every little bit counts and goes a long way in helping these children play and learn in a safe environment.

Thanks for your caring and support.  

Links:

What is “Safe Parks”?

“Safe Parks” is a program free and open to all children in the community and addresses some of the challenges (mental and physical) faced by children living in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia. The Matero compound is one of the largest (population of around 200,000) and poorest compounds in Lusaka, with an unemployment rate upwards of 65% and a high incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria. As a result, children grwoing up in this compound face difficult challenges. "Safe Parks" provides children with an opportunity for safe play, and psycho-social support in an environment which facilitates activities, discussions, and educational lessons. In addition, homework help is provided. It keeps the children off the streets (where they can be abused or get into trouble) for a few hours on weekends and has led to an improvement in performance at school and keeps the children happy.  

Impact: Over the past few months, out trained child and youth care workers have been educating children (via games, drama, role play, and poetry) in prevention of HIV and malaria, overall health, safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases, and the importance of adherence to medication. A discussion of these issues makes the children feel comfortable about their positive status and encourages them to adhere to their medication regimen as it reduces stigma associated with HIV.  The younger children engage in drawing, coloring, soccer, playing with building blocks, singing and dancing. These activities benefit the children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development and overall health. Finally, expecting moms who are HIV positive are counselled on prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV which leads to fewer new infections. Direct beneficiaries are about 75-80 children and families who participate each week with a total of about 700 children enrolled.   

In 2013, a few children participated in the Barefeet Youth Arts Festival held in Lusaka. This was an opportunity to demonstrate to children from other districts, how they are “living positive” and having fun. We hope that the children can continue to participate every year.

Next Steps: Some of the older children who have graduated from high school have been mentoring the younger children by sharing their experiences, and helping with school work. We hope to make the mentoring component a permanent feature of this program.

Need for Funds: At this time we are raising funds to rent a bigger play area, and to provide a nutritious snack for the children every week. Please donate generously as every little bit counts and goes a long way in helping these children play and learn in a safe environment. 

Thanks for your support.

Links:

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Organization

Project Leader

Alka Subramanian

Founder/Director
San Diego, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Safe parks for children impacted by HIV in Zambia