Nov 28, 2016

You can help us double our impact in South Africa

Happy healthy children
Happy healthy children

This #GivingTuesday we have a great opportunity to help get children living in South Africa who have been orphaned by HIV, access to good healthcare and education. #GivingTuesday is a national day for everyone to come together to pool their fundraising dollars for larger impact, and Global Giving will be offering a 50% match on donations made on #GivingTuesday, November 29th up to the first $1 million raised on GlobalGiving.org. And we need your support to get that match!

With your help last year we were able to get 12,799 children hot meals, wellness check ups and critical vaccines; and had 6,924 children attend our after-school and early-learning programs. This year we know we can beat that, and bring even more children the support they need to thrive.

When you donate to Starfish Greathearts Foundation, you become part of a larger movement of people working to end the devastating effects of HIV, by bringing hope and a bright future to orphaned children in South Africa.

The ever charming Lungelo strikes a pose
The ever charming Lungelo strikes a pose
Oct 27, 2016

The impact of HIV on the life of a child

The Wellness Wagon provides mobile healthcare
The Wellness Wagon provides mobile healthcare

Starfish Greathearts Foundation recently conducted a community profiling exercise at Loaves and Fishes Network in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, to determine the impact that your donations have had on the lives of children affected by HIV in that community.

The results found that the Eastern Cape has a poorer socioeconomic and health status than the average for all the provinces of South Africa. People linked to the daycare centers in Newlands demonstrated first-hand knowledge of what living with HIV entails for adults and children within families. Children in the community are living in an area of high HIV and TB prevalence, and your support of Starfish USA ensures that local daycare centers, like Loaves and Fishes Network, are equipped to protect the health and wellbeing of these young children.

In the community, half of the children do not live with their parents, but with their grandmothers where the households are heavily reliant on social grants. The underpinning situation of poverty translates to poor nutrition, limits access to quality health services and a deprived physical environment, driving the reported social ills of substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. 

HIV and AIDS are highly stigmatized, even though the majority of the respondents personally knew people living with HIV and AIDS. The HIV prevalence amongst women attending clinics in the area is almost 30% and over a quarter of the mothers of children attending the daycare centers are living with HIV.

To mitigate the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on the wellbeing of children in the Newlands community, Starfish is working to ensure that the daycare centers we support serve as a resource for knowledge and support on health related issues, in addition to ensuring school readiness for the young children.

Your donation helps Starfish:

  • Train teaching staff and guardians on HIV and AIDS, TB, and management of childhood illness
  • Provide testing for HIV and screening for TB through the Starfish Wellness Wagon, a mobile clinic
  • Provide healthcare screening through the Wellness Wagon for malnutrition, immunization and developmental milestones
  • Provide transport to hospital or healthcare specialists, where necessary
  • Train social workers to improve the general environment for children

This would help to the reduce the stigma of HIV, creating conditions where more parents and caregivers could get tested and take their HIV-exposed children for testing, followed by support for those on treatment, through establishing of adherence clubs. The daycare centers make a meaningful contribution to addressing the context of the generalized HIV epidemic existing in Newlands.

Statistics show the high burden of HIV disease in South Africa as a whole and in the Eastern Cape in particular. Almost one third of pregnant women in the Eastern Cape were HIV positive, leading to a requirement for a strong prevention of mother to child transmission program, ongoing linkage to care for women, and monitoring of the status of babies. Those children who become infected with HIV need to be linked to the health system for treatment, care and support.

There is simultaneously a great awareness of HIV, and strong stigma attached to the disease, and the majority of people interviewed were reluctant to talk about HIV. During the survey, participants were asked to describe how HIV affects a child who is living with the disease:

“Children are treated differently. Some children are not told their status, especially when they are young. Other children, especially older children, are told their status, and then have to deal with the knowledge.”

“A child who is HIV positive is not different from the negative one, they both live the same life”.

“The child has to face life so it is difficult, but the child still has to face life”.

“Sometimes the child cannot go to school due to sickness”.

Children who are HIV positive may experience stigma from the community. As the child gets older, and his/her status is disclosed, children may feel confused, isolated from their peers and their family, and uncertain of whether they will survive. When on antiretroviral treatment, they may experience difficulties with accessing treatment and being adherent due to stigma

Sadly, the people living in the Newlands community are all too well acquainted with HIV and its devastating effects on the community, and more specifically on their children. 

Support Starfish and help these children affected with HIV take up the challenge of living positively with the disease and live their lives to the fullest.

Growing food gardens to feed hungry children
Growing food gardens to feed hungry children
Donate to bring smiles to children in South Africa
Donate to bring smiles to children in South Africa
Training on HIV and childhood illnesses
Training on HIV and childhood illnesses
Providing HIV and TB testing in our mobile clinic
Providing HIV and TB testing in our mobile clinic

Links:

Jul 28, 2016

We've come so far and stand so close to ending it

Hot meals made with love and smiles!
Hot meals made with love and smiles!

Just over a week ago world leaders and the heads of major foundations met in Durban for the 21st International AIDS Conference. The aim - to discuss how to end the AIDS epidemic.

403 miles away in Ikageng, 8 year-old Sielo is living the reality of the horrors of AIDS. Her mother died a few weeks ago leaving Sielo and her little brother Mbele completely alone in the world - their father died last May. They’ve been living in the Ikageng children’s home supported by Starfish and headed by Ms Olerato, for just over a week. Sielo and Mbele’s is a heartbreaking story: vulnerable young children in need of a home, but sadly it’s not unique. UNICEF estimates that nearly half of the 3.7 million orphans in South Africa lost one or both of their parents to HIV.

There is nothing more traumatic for a child than to see their parents die. Once orphaned, these children are then far more likely to be abused or exploited. Sielo knew this when she and her brother, who is only 6 years old, walked the near 11 miles to the children’s home from their village. Looking at them now, sat so closely together in complete unmoving silence on the tiniest patch of grass in the playground, I have to fight every instinct not to run to them and pull them into a hug. They should be running around and playing, like children should, not mourning the loss of another parent in the courtyard of orphanage. Ms Olerato, the sweetest woman you could ever hope to meet, tells me that Mbele cries less and less everyday, and the counselling the two children receive at Ikageng is truly helping. As well as psychological support, Ikageng provides school books and uniforms to get children into school, and has early education and after-school programs open to children in the area as well. They are big proponents of a holistic childcare system that encourages education as an HIV/AIDS prevention tool - Ikageng boasts an impressive number of children who graduate high school and leave for university. This belief isn’t unfounded, countless of studies from UNAIDS have shown that people with higher education are far less likely to contract HIV.

Charlize Theron said in her very bold speech at the Durban Conference, that we - yes even you! - have the power to end the AIDS epidemic, and she was right, we as a global society do have all the tools we need. Your donation to Starfish helps us use epidemic-ending tools like HIV testing, public awareness education, providing ARV (anti-retroviral) medication, and supporting children like Sielo with the help of community resources like Ikageng. Your donation helps places like Ikageng lift Sielo out of an AIDS cycle she has unwittingly been forced into, where left vulnerable unloved and uneducated she faces a 31% chance of contracting HIV before her 25th birthday, and a 56% chance of being one of the 470,000 deaths due to AIDS by the time she is 30 - just like her mother. The gift you made will turn Sielo’s life in a different direction. With the support she receives from Ikageng, growing up emotionally and materially supported, and empowered through education, Sielo’s children will likely never end up sitting where she is - orphaned due to AIDS.

Make another donation to Starfish and help more children just like Sielo and Mbele out of the horrible cycle of AIDS. The gift you give provides more than just medical testing kits and healthy meals for orphaned children, it really does give vulnerable children a shot at a different future, a much brighter one.

Happy children - just as it should be!
Happy children - just as it should be!

Links:

 
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