AIDS has permeated societies throughout Africa. It has been suggested that some of the first cases of HIV/AIDS in Kenya were discovered along the Lake Victoria shoreline, (near the Homa Bay area that LARCOD serves).
As a result, the Western portion of Kenya had extremely high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates, approximately 25-34% in the late 70s and early 80s, with some villages as high as 37%.
Fortunately, this high rate has been reduced to about 8% nationally and 13% in Homa Bay County as a result of various interventions being implemented to combat HIV/AIDs pandemic (Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey report, KAIS 2007/2008). Although this achievement is great, the damage caused by HIV/AIDS continues to be felt far and wide.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic is now recognized as more than a health issue. It is a developmental crisis, affecting all aspects of life, including education. Unfortunately, children and women have been highly affected by the crisis. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has created an enormous population of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and women who are widows. Some people who unexpectedly become OVC guardians are too poor or ill to look after their own children, let alone cope with the added burden of feeding and looking after additional children who suddenly, without warning or preparation, appear in their households as orphans of their relatives or friends.
Many times, the situation causes anxiety, tensions, and even resentment. Children orphaned and made vulnerable due to HIV/AIDS can also suffer added challenges of discrimination. Some are underfed, overworked, stigmatized and not given adequate love or the basic necessities. Even in circumstances where a child is treated equally, there is immense financial pressure on families that are living at or below the poverty level. Even the extended kinship and communal heritage systems for coping, which characterize the African society and try to provide some safety-nets, are overwhelmed by the number of children currently in need.
In light of these financial pressures, how can foster families be expected to adequately care for these children's basic needs? Where can they draw the physical strength, mental orientation and financial capacity to be the pillar and source for their own children and additional children?
A major consequence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is that children are not able to concentrate on education and learning goals. More often than not, they lack school fees and other learning materials and are forced to disrupt learning to try to get them. Some simply give up, although many try to press on.
Since children are the future of a community they must achieve education to be able to reach a better and brighter future. This is the context within which many well-wishers struggle to find answers and identify the best ways to respond to this very complex and compelling crisis.
This is the context against which our Community Based Organization, Lake Region Community Development Initiative (LARCOD), is seeking to provide answers to some of these abiding questions and implement sustainable programs to improve the lives of vulnerable children and women.
How can you help?
Help vulnerable and orphaned children stay in school for a brighter future.
Support Educational Programs and Group Savings and Loan Programs for Youth and Women's Groups to help them rise out of poverty.
Your donations, big and small, can make an important difference in the lives and futures of these children, youth and women by helping LARCOD provide:
- School Fees, uniforms and school supplies
- Feminine Hygiene supplies (Sanitary Towels, underwear) for girls
- Health Education programs
- Shelter, Clothing and Care
- Access to Health Care
- Psychosocial Support and Education
- Nutrition and Food Security
- Legal Protection and Prevention of Abuse and Exploitation
- Educational Programs for Youths
- Programs for Women's Groups
- Education and mobilization
- Group Savings and Loan Programs