Orphaids - supporting orphans of AIDS victims

 

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AIDS Orphan

Ecuador

Orphaids was born in Ecuador.  Missionaries John & Brenda Hart caught the vision 10 years ago after one of their Ecuadorian friends, who was dying of AIDS, asked Brenda to care for her child when she died.

In the 10 years that followed, a 9 house complex was built near Santo Domingo, with capacity for up to 54 AIDS orphans, each house having a houseparent couple.  Orphaids currently cares for around 15 orphans at this site.

We always pray for more houseparents - couples who feel called to live at Orphaids and become the new parents of one or more orphans.  You can imagine the commitment this entails and the reasons we find it difficult to recruit enough couples to enable us to care for the maximum number of children.

Our work in Ecuador is split into 4 areas (click to explore):

1. Homes & Families

2. Community Work

3. Palliative Care

4. AIDS Education

Homes & Families 

Usually, when a child is left orphaned, they will be taken care of by their extended family or they will turn to the streets.

When a parent has died from AIDS/HIV, the family sometimes doesn't want to know the child due to their ignorance of how the disease is spread.  They think they may catch the disease by being in the same airspace.  Children can also end up in orphanages.

Orphaids aims to offer an alternative.  Orphaids is not an orphanage.

Orphaids provides orphans with a home and a family to meet their emotional, physical, spiritual, educational and relational needs.  We believe it is important that the children are brought into to a family unit as soon as possible.

A rigorous recruitment programme consisting of, amongst other things, psychological assessments ensures that the houseparents are the right calibre to create these special homes and provide the ongoing stability that an orphan clearly needs.

Orphaids gives ongoing support to the houseparents and provides help to the children who have, most times, been subjected to some form of abuse in their life, be it sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect.  There is much healing to take place in people so young.

The children of Orphaids did receive a state education but due to teacher strikes and disrupted schooling we have now placed the children in a private school to ensure stability and standard.  Orphaids needs help with the costs involved.  If you would like to sponsor the education of an orphan, please visit our Family Support section.

Orphaids establishes prayer partners for all the Orphaids families.

In some cases, as news of Orphaids has spread, we are asked by the authorities if we can look after a particular orphaned child or family.  In other cases, we have cared for the parent or parents during their illness and the parent has subsequently died.  We give support to the children in their bereavement.

Community Work 

ACOMVIDA, which means 'Accompanying for Life', is an HIV/AIDS care and support programme offering individual support to the family, friends and community of an infected person.  In addition, the project is in the early stages of developing a regular local support group so people living with HIV in the Santo Domingo area can come together.

The project has been in operation since March 2001.  In that time it has been involved in supporting 31 adults and children infected with HIV, of which 12 have sadly died.

The support offered to people with HIV in the community includes advocacy, education and practical orientation to their disease, psychosocial and spiritual care, practical support such as home care and nursing as required, and the availability of terminal and respite care within the Orphaids complex as required.

Working alongside local structures, such as the local health authority, Red Cross, other NGO's and the National AIDS/HIV programme, Orphaids is a member organisation of the AIDS/HIV Support Committee in the Santo Domingo area, whose aim is to co-ordinate care and support for people with HIV/AIDS in the province.

There are a small number of volunteers who have been involved in helping with the project since its founding.  There is also a part-time support worker who has working within the project since January 2003.

Santo Domingo de los Colorados has over 60 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS (Official epidemiological statistics, department of epidemiology, Santo Domingo Hospital).  However, UNAIDS has projected that there could be as many as 10 times that number of cases.  It has also been projected that over the coming 5 years the incidence of HIV transmission will increase five fold to 3,000. With a population of 300,000, a separate, independent, unpublished study has shown that Santo Domingo could be facing an HIV epidemic.

Palliative Care 

Orphaids has a purpose built Care Centre on site enabling us to give care to parents in the terminal stage of their illness.  We keep their children close to them during this time as it gives parents the comfort of getting to know who their children will be left with and it helps the children deal with their parent's death.  This is important to support the hand-over process.

In many cases, HIV patients are discharged from the state hospitals and sent home to die.  The aim of the Care Centre is to provide the parent with all the help they need, to give the parent quality of life and dignity in death.  The service we offer can vary from administering pain relief to providing somewhere to die for people whose families have dis-owned them when they know the person is nearing the end.

The on-site medical team is also able to administer anti-retroviral drugs to expectant mothers who are HIV+ to help reduce the chances of their unborn child contracting the disease and we have recently had great success with one particular mother who contracted HIV from her partner and already has one child with HIV.  The anti-retroviral treatment she received means that her second child was born free from the disease.

AIDS Education - Jovenes Contra SIDA 

The Spanish 'Jovenes Contra SIDA' translates into English as 'Youth Against AIDS'.

Jovenes Contra SIDA (JCS) is an HIV/AIDS prevention programme being run in Santo Domingo, Ecuador - the closest city to the Orphaids site.  It is a community project operating under the general auspices of Orphaids.

JCS was founded in September 2001.  Since then JCS has been into approximately 12 high schools doing creative and participative talks/lessons on issues around AIDS/HIV and STD prevention and sexuality.  In some of these high schools, JCS has set up groups of students who are interested in volunteering and training as peer educators within their high schools and wider communities.

The members of JCS have received some training, to enable them in their roles as peer educators, through monthly meetings.  Many of the members have also helped in talks within other high schools.

JCS has also been involved in other activities such as campaigns and marches on World AIDS day, radio programmes on local radio etc.

JCS now has a voluntary co-ordinator in the Latacunga province of Ecuador - an ex-member of JCS in Santo Domingo who has set up a section at his University.

The aims and objectives of JCS are:-

  • to increase awareness of young people as to the behavioural factors which put them at greater risks of being infected with HIV and other STD's.

  • to empower young people so that they can apply the information gained into behavioural changes that will protect them against infection.

  • to empower young people to make healthy and informed choices regarding their sexual and social behaviour.

  • to undertake creative and participative talks on AIDS/HIV, STD's and Sexuality, in every high school in the Santo Domingo area within 5 years.

  • to form "Jovenes Contra SIDA" (Youth against AIDS) groups in every high school in Santo Domingo within 5 years.

  • to train members of JCS to enable them to be the educators of their peers within their own high schools and communities.

  • to organise activities within the wider community such as campaigns, radio programmes, marches etc on world AIDS days, utilising the abilities of the members of JCS.

  • to forge stronger links with local structures such as the local NGO's (Non-Governmental Organisations), health authority, education authority, and National AIDS Programme.

  • to have an Ecuadorian project co-ordinator of JCS with appropriate training and abilities within 18 months.

  • In the long term, to have JCS projects functioning in other provinces of Ecuador with their own co-ordinators using the project in Santo Domingo as a model.

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