Psychosocial support for children and young people affected by HIV/Aids

A young man shows the others how to make planks
In Mozambique, over 400,000 children have lost at least one parent to Aids. These children and young people suddenly find themselves alone and having to look after their younger brothers and sisters. Our partner organisation OSAMULIZA supports these children and young people so that they can cope better with their changed circumstances and it also gives them material assistance.
In southern Africa, millions of parents die from Aids. Left to fend for themselves, children and young people fight a daily battle for survival. Often the older children, themselves still not adults, take on responsibility for the household and for their younger siblings. They no longer have either the time to go to school or the money for school materials and uniforms.
Only a few children and young people are fortunate enough to be able to stay with relatives and be well looked after there. Often, the children who are taken in are treated worse than the family's own children: they have to do the hardest work in the home, are not allowed to go to school and do not have enough to eat. Many children and young people report that they were driven from their homes because, after the death of their parents, other relatives took over the house and land for themselves.

Strength in numbers
Our partner organisation supports children and young people who have been affected by HIV/Aids and gives them new hope in life. OSAMULIZA runs clubs for children and young people in 20 communities in the district of Milange. The younger children meet twice a week at the Kids' Club, where two older teenagers are responsible for looking after them. The children can talk about their worries in the group, and they look for solutions together. However, the playing, singing and dancing together are also important. The teenagers meet once a week at the youth club. In their group, they talk about sex education, contraception and sexual diseases. They also share practical information, for example about running a household or farming the land. For young people, the death of their parents means not only an emotional loss but also the loss of practical and cultural knowledge. The young people build homes for orphaned children who no longer have a roof over their heads,

Information through theatre
It is important to engage the village population to ensure that the orphans are not excluded or disowned. Our partner organisation increases awareness among the inhabitants of the village about the concerns of the children and young people who have been affected. The young people present themselves and their concerns to their local community in the form of plays that they have rehearsed themselves. The stories are about losing their parents, taking responsibility for their siblings, social exclusion in the community or wanting to go to school.

Village communities help as well
OSAMULIZA supports men and women who voluntarily grow food for children affected by Aids in community-owned fields. Some of the proceeds are used to buy school materials and uniforms. Our partner organisation supports these initiatives by providing seeds, tools and agricultural advice.

Involving the village population has led to a wonderful solidarity which provides the children and young people with a broadly-based network after they have lost their family support structure. Our project partners work with the children to try to find solutions so that they can go to school despite their workload in the home. OSAMULIZA also organises workshops for teachers on the subject of "Psychosocial support for Aids orphans".
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In all its work in every single country it is involved in, terre des hommes schweiz relies on the strengths of young people. That is why the training programme Youth2Youth has been developed and is growing constantly.