Please God-TheStarJuly09

Date: October 12, 2009
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This article may be used to:
– Draw attention to the plight of children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.
– Highlight the stigmatisation of people living with HIV/AIDS
– As an example of an article that protects identities of vulnerable children
– Highlight what society can do to help children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS
– Highlight how children fall within the cracks in the welfare system
– As an example of reporting that gives practical solutions to problems

Trainer’s notes

The plight of children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS is highlighted. Losing parents to HIV/AIDS often means an end to a “normal” life to most children. The children left behind are always at the mercy of their neighbours who give them handouts when ever they have little to spare. Older ones are often made to make sacrifices such as dropping off school to take care of their siblings, subjecting themselves to a life of gloom. While many boy children resort to crime to make ends meet, girls resort to sex work, making themselves putting themselves at risk of unwanted pregnancies and contracting HIV/AIDS. This therefore becomes an unending vicious cycle.

The article also highlights the stigmatisation that people living with HIV/AIDS have to deal with. Often they are shunned by their communities, many resorts to keeping their statuses a closely guarded secret or most people resort not to get tested in the first place, taking the fight against HIV/AIDS several steps back. Even family members of the HIV /AIDS positive person are not spared. There is still a great a need for HIV/AIDS intervention programmes to focus on dealing with destigmatising HIV/AIDS.

Identities of the vulnerable are protected. False names are used instead of the children’s real names. Protecting identities of vulnerable children not only protects their identities but is in line with the UNICEF guidelines on reporting on children which state that reporting on children must always be in the best interest of the child. The article also points out how the system continuously fails children orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS.Whilist policies and procedures are in place many children still fall within the cracks. The fact that though systems are in place but many children still fail to access the welfare system is an indication that it is poorly administered therefore a need for to overhaul the system so that many children can access it. This article stands out in that it is not yet another alarming account of the numbers of children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS in South Africa, but it offers practical solutions to this problem.

There are a significant numbers of orphaned children still at school; the article however raises the point that it is not enough to keep the children at school without addressing their other needs. Clearly because of their circumstances these children have more needs than other children. The article proposes that the education system shifts away from focusing on improving school management to an education system intent on adapting to the downward spiral of social circumstances of South Africa’s children.

The newspaper article is available on:

Discussion Questions
– Ask participants to discuss the effectiveness of the current HIV/AIDS intervention strategies focused on children.
– With the current economic problems facing the country more people are finding it extremely difficult to take care of their own families ,not to mention the extended family, this coming at a time where the number of people dying due to HIV/AIDS is increasing leading to child headed households. Ask participants to discuss how best this can be addressed.
– Is giving grants to HIV/AIDS orphans enough or more still needs to be done .Ask participants to discuss this.
– What other practical solutions could be put in place?

Training exercises
– Ask participants to design a campaign focusing on dealing with de-stigmatising HIV/AIDS and play it back to their class.
– Design a fact sheet to guide journalists reporting on children and HIV.
– Cnduct a monitoring exercise on the representation of children living with and/or orphaned by HIV/AIDS in the media

Other training resources

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