Grass roots projects supporting people living with HIV

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Feature story

Grass roots projects supporting people living with HIV

12 June 2009

As part of the 2009 HIV/AIDS Implementers meeting being held in Windhoek, Namibia, delegates had the opportunity to visit HIV projects in the area to find out what is being done on the ground to support people living with HIV.

One of the projects was the Bernhard Nordkamp Social Service Centre which offers training and outreach programmes for HIV prevention, care and support, voluntary HIV testing and counselling, post-test support groups and an after school learning programme.

Since it was established by Catholic AIDS Action in 1999, the centre which is Namibia’s first faith-based community HIV outreach and support centre, has registered over 1,500 orphans and vulnerable children. The children receive choir practice, music classes, art therapy, and homework assistance. A computer lab, which helps the children improve their mathematics and English skills through computer aided learning, is also available for use.

“It is impressive to see the dedication of the staff and volunteers,” said Paul De Lay, UNAIDS Executive Director Programme, ad interim. “It is the commitment of organisations like this which is really making a difference to peoples lives at the community level.”

The centre also runs a soup kitchen catering for 130 children each day, primarily children most in need including children living with HIV and orphans.

Some 60 volunteers work for the centre and provide support to nearly 600 families through their home-based family care services. This programme also reaches around 990 orphans who receive psychosocial support. Another of the centre’s activities is to provide income generating projects for people living with HIV. One of the activities, called the “Beaded Red Ribbon” project, is providing income to around 25 families. Other income generating activities include producing greeting cards, jewellery, and Christmas ornaments.