COVID education is provided to orphans and vulnerable children living in impoverished communities in Lusaka, Zambia. About 20-30 children participate each week. Health care personnel conduct workshops on COVID prevention. A small snack and masks are provided. These workshops were started in July 2020 to keep children and families safe from COVID. Once COVID is over, we will revert back to our old format of engaging children in educational games, activities, and workshops on HIV prevention.
A high incidence of HIV, AIDS and malaria, low education, and a high rate of unemployment characterizes our community. Most residents are extremely poor and live on less than $2 per day. A majority of the children suffer from mental health issues due food insecurity, illness, loss of a parent due to AIDS , HIV related stigma, and/or living with extended family who have minimal resources to provide adequate care. Most children have no information regarding COVID prevention and use of masks.
Children are provided with COVID education, masks, and a snack in a safe way. The importance of mask use is underscored. Pre-COVID the mental and physical health (due to poverty, trauma, apathy, or abuse) was assessed and children interacted freely with peers irrespective of HIV status resulting in a sense of well-being. Educational games and activities helped identify psycho-social needs. Counseling and home work help was provided. Plan is to resume pre-COVID activities as soon as it is safe.
The community will be safe from COVID and in better health. Post-COVID, children will resume play and learn in a safe environment resulting in better mental and physical health. Provision of homework help motivates children to do better at school. Older children get an opportunity to lead HIV workshops. Counseling and information about services available will be provided to family members. Impact is children develop leadership qualities, are happier, and better adjusted to their circumstances.
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