This project provides a safe environment for orphans and vulnerable children to play and learn. It is free and open to all children from impoverished communities in Lusaka, Zambia. About 760 children are enrolled and 90-100 children participate each week. Health care personnel assess the mental and physical development as children engage in educational games, and workshops on HIV. Since July 2020, the format was changed to smaller groups of children receiving COVID education, masks, snack.
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 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.
This project has provided additional documentation in a XLSX file (projdoc.xlsx).
About "Safe Park"
We are Growing Educators and Leaders
Safe Park": A weekly haven for vulnerable children
Zambian games we play during "Safe Park"