Providing Support to HIV-Positive & Orphaned Children in UgandaJul 31, 2021
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (July 31, 2021) – According to UNICEF, children below the age of 15 account for 11 percent of the 1.6 million Ugandans living with HIV (2013 estimates). At Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC)’s Project Bududa, Uganda, the community works together to provide health services and support in its Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Program. In 2010, FIMRC’s OVC Program was launched to serve as a support group for HIV-positive children from the community. Today, it supports more than 30 children who are either HIV-positive or orphaned due to parental death caused by HIV/AIDS.
Children in FIMRC’s OVC Program range in age from 10 months to 20 years and either lost both parents to HIV, one parent to HIV, or are deemed “vulnerable” due to a lack of support and guidance. Before the pandemic, FIMRC staff held monthly meetings for the OVC participants to teach health education topics such as personal hygiene, medication adherence, and adolescent growth and changes. They also conducted home visits, evaluated the OVC participant’s caretakers, and gave the caretakers extensive education on how to care for an HIV-positive child during an emergent situation such as dehydration, excessive vomiting/diarrhea, pneumonia, and meningitis. Staff plans to resume these services as soon as it is safe to do so.
“One particular child in the OVC Program at Project Bududa joined when he was 14 years old, and has now been in the program for three years,” explained Brian Park, former Field Operations Manager at FIMRC’s Project Bududa, Uganda. “When he joined, he weighed approximately 70 pounds, and there was concern for his survival due to his deteriorating condition. After three years in the program, he is happy and healthy, both physically and emotionally, and pursuing a carpenter vocational program in Bududa. It's stories like this that demonstrate the transformational impact on a personal and tangible level that can occur through the programs FIMRC implements within the community.”
While providing medications is a necessity for survival while HIV-positive, one aspect that is considered less often is being able to stomach the harsh medications. This is why FIMRC has implemented a goat program and vegetable garden initiative within the OVC Program. They help children who struggle in taking their medications with additional nutritional support from the milk and vegetables that are produced. Additionally, as the goats and gardens belong to the children, it instills responsibility and empowers them to take hold of their future, selling any excess milk or vegetables as a means of income.
ABOUT FIMRC – Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving access to healthcare for families around the world through the implementation of innovative and self-sustaining health programs. Founded in 2002, incorporated in Washington, DC and headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, FIMRC utilizes its network of outpatient clinics and partnerships to assert multidimensional strategy that includes clinical services, extensive community outreach efforts, and health education programs. For more information, visit fimrc.org. Facebook @officialfimrcpage and Instagram @fimrc.
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