The purpose of our project:
The Warm Hold Association is a network of volunteers with a passion for making a difference in the world. We are dedicated to help and support children with HIV/AIDS. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. We become part of the village. And we help extend their village to a wider network of love and support. We work on a coordinated care approach that addresses both health and social needs. This is done either directly, or indirectly through strategic partnerships and through links and referrals with other service providers.
What kind of support does Warm Hold Association provide?
- Health: Support for regular medical treatment and testing including overcoming transportation barriers. Also counseling on safe & proper HIV practices.
- Economic Stability: Provide transitional support when the caretaker has no home or sufficient income. Help caretakers develop or improve their situation and capability to support themselves and the child.
- Nutrition: Providing food security. Especially when caretakers are unable to work.
- Education: Provide training regarding the knowledge and understanding of how to take care of HIV kids at home and how to deal with discrimination forwarded to the kids. Support practices and activities for continuing education necessary to become self-reliant and successful working individuals in the community, consistent with their health and labor situation.
- Safe Environment: Identify areas of neglect, exploitation or abuse. Help provide a living environment where child is protected, safe and cared for.
- Emotional Support: Provide counseling, peer networks, entertainment; social activities and home care for children.
- Creativity, Collaboration & Sustainability: Creatively build a network of volunteers and collaboration with local governments, local businesses, other CBO/NGOs and health sectors. And come up with creative solutions for unique issues of the child and caretaker.
What we don’t do is to provide the medication for the children. This is done by the government medical professionals and often with the support of other agencies or NGOs. But it’s typically the medical community who contacts the Warm Hold Association to help solve social and life problems with the support of the children and their caretakers.
We believe that it is a better situation if the child can live with and be raised by a caretaker who is preferably a relative, rather than go to an orphanage or other institutions. This provides the best chance for the child to live a more normal family life, and has someone who loves and cares for the child. So it becomes critical that we address the needs of not only the child, but of the caretakers and the whole family, as their lives are interwoven.
However, addressing the needs of the children and caretakers is a very difficult challenge. There are a large number of variables and potential issues so that there is no remedy or formula that fits all. Each family situation has it’s own complexities and must be addressed individually. And the needs will change over time as family circumstances and conditions change.
What are the daily issues facing the children that we see?
- Children have HIV/AIDS. A deadly Disease
- Children are usually orphans. In some cases, one or more parent is still alive.
- Daily medication can be hard on the body. It takes several months to acclimate to the treatment.
- Transportation to treatments
- Poor living conditions (dirt floor, thatched roof and walls)
- Not enough food to eat or weak from mal-nutrition
- Access to clean water
- Personal Hygene
- Physical abuse
- Discrimination at school because of nature of illness.
- Kicked out of school because of nature of illness.
- Forced labor
- 7th grader working full time doing heavy labor for $3.50/week.
- Young girl pulled from school to sell lottery tickets on the street.
How about the caretakers?
- Typically a relative (grandmother, aunt, uncle, etc.)
- Often, a single grandmother or great-grandmother (husband killed in war).
- Too old to work. Many caretakers in their 70s & 80s.
- Little money to feed their own household and now have another mouth to feed.
- Poor living conditions. (Dirt floors, mud floors when it rains, mosquitos & insects)
- Unskilled labor
- Health conditions. Often cannot work.
- Children working given higher priority than education.
- Poor access to transportation. Especially older person who cannot ride bide or motorbike.
- Fear of what will happen to the child when they die as no one else to take care of them.
- Lack of parenting skills in a changing world.
- No vision for the future of the child.
The conditions of the children span a wide range from sad and destitute to hopeful and excited. And likewise, the situation of the caretakers spans a wide range from helplessness or even abusive, to incredibly loving and caring people.
I am personally inspired by the excitement for life in the eyes of these children given their difficult situation, by the huge responsibilities of raising a child with HIV provided by the caretakers, and the passion and resourcefulness of the Warm Hold Association volunteers as they work to make the world a better place.