Happy with family
Knowledge about HIV and AIDS? In Zambia, HIV prevalence continues to be high - 12% prevalence rate in adults aged 15-49 years. In addition, 67% of the adults and 52% of children were on anti-retroviral treatment in 2016. However, despite the high HIV prevalence rate and widespread use of ARV’s, there are significantly low rates of HIV knowledge among the general population.
Our goal is to provide education about HIV: Our program is in Matero - one of the largest and poorest compounds in Lusaka with a high incidence of HIV, AIDS and malaria and unemployment rates upwards of 60%. Most residents are poor and live on less than $2 per day – defined as extreme poverty. Since many adults in Matero have never been to school, they do not have adequate knowledge about HIV, AIDS and malaria. One of the goals of our program is to improve knowledge about HIV prevention and care among children and families in this community. To achieve this goal, our program, which is open and free for children, educates older children about HIV prevention and care and provides information about HIV to family members. Every Saturday morning about 70-80 children come to play and learn with our trained child care staff. One of these children is Nathan (name changed for privacy), who has benefitted from regular participation in Safe Park activities.
Impact of Safe Park educational activities: Nathan enrolled in "Safe Park as a 10-year-old boy and is now 12 years old. He and his three siblings live with their aunt, as they lost their mom to AIDS. His aunt is the sole provider for a family of 10 and finds it difficult to support the family. His uncle is unemployed, so the family is barely able to afford two meals a day. Before, Nathan joined our program, he was shy and did not interact well with his family and peers. He always liked school, but was having trouble reading as the adults in his family had never been to school. By participating in “Safe Park” activities, Nathan receives psychosocial counseling, education about HIV, AIDS, and help with homework from trained child counsellors. Over the last year or so, he has learned about HIV, AIDS and malaria and has learned to take ARV medication on his own. He is also doing better at school and his dream is to become a doctor. He spends his leisure time playing soccer and participates enthusiastically in all Safe Park games and activities.
To sum: “Safe Park” educational games and activities have resulted in families learning about HIV, AIDS and malaria. In addition, families are referred to government clinics for counseling and testing for HIV, TB and cervical cancer. Guided discussions with children regarding HIV prevention and care are also popular with community residents. The children are happy as they get an opportunity to play, interact freely with other children of all ages, and mentor younger children. All program activities instill a sense of well-being and belonging that is critical for a child's normal development.
Thanks for your support and caring for orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia.
A child who loves to play and learn
A child with grandma
Working on an activity during Safe Park