This project helps children impacted/infected by HIV/AIDS play and learn in a safe environment, and is free and open to all children in the community of Matero in Lusaka, Zambia. About 780 children are enrolled and about 80-90 children participate each week. Children participate in organized games and homework help is provided. This keeps children off the streets where they can be abused and allows our Nurse to assess their mental and physical development. Parents are guided/counseled as needed.
There is a high incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria in the community. This problem is aggravated by low education levels and a high rate of unemployment that leads to most community members living on less than $2 per day. A majority of the children suffer from mental health issues due to loss of a parent, fear loss of parent to AIDS, stigma associated with HIV, and/or living with extended family who have difficulty caring for them. All these impact the child's normal physical & mental development
The Project Nurse observes the children's behavior to understand the child's home/school environment (e.g. stress, trauma, apathy, abuse). Games and activities are used to identify psycho-social needs of the children through behavior assessment and counseling provided so as to stimulate the mental and physical development and strengthen family relationships. Homework help and a small snack is also provided. The children enjoy the games and are kept off the streets where they may be abused.
For the children who participate on a regular basis, we see an improvement in their mental and physical health due to the opportunity to play/learn/do homework in a safe environment. They go back home in a happier and more relaxed state of mind. Second, the homework help provided helps the children stay motivated to stay in school do better at school. Third, guidance and counseling provided to family members helps them to take better care of their children and has ripple effects in the community
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).
Safe Parks, A weekly haven for children
Our pediatric HIV/AIDS care program
Stories of children working hard at school
Description of games/activities during Safe Parks