Childheaded households and teenage mothers

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So its time to update the blog! A lot has happened this week, and I will try to give you a more detailed description of my days here so far – to help you create a picture of the process that NDA is going through at this early state of our work.
(My stay at SOS Children’s Villages though, where I’ve just been for 4 days, will be the subject of the next blog – so you’ll have to wait a bit longer for that story.)
Last week I visited 3 different NGOs in a smaller settlement, Kayamandi, outside of Stellenbosch. Especially one of these, Prochorus, is doing some very interesting work with the children in the local community, and I will have to visit them again before I leave. At this state I feel very compelled to base the NGO in Kayamandi, because it is, to a certain extent, more safe than Khayelitsha where I used to work. This means that NDA in the future would have the possibility to accomodate and send out volunteers from overseas, without having to worry about their safety at all times.
But this is all in the future and last week I was struggling more to define our precise target group. NDA will focus on vulnerable children infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. But this a very broad target group, and one of the purposes of my trip is to define a more concrete group.
Because of the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS, it might also be a problem only to address HIV positive children and teenagers in our future program. If you, for example, start a support group for HIV infected children only, you risk that no one will turn up, because they or their parents fear that friends and family will see them in the program, and recognize them as positive. It is a big problem in South Africa that HIV positive people are being isolated and looked down upon by their families and in the local community. I must therefore keep in mind that NDA’s definition and way of approaching the target group does not create more stigma and social exclusion.
How to find the target group
A way to narrow down the target group is to do research in the areas, where you consider to base your project. I was therefore determined to spend a lot of time in the informal and formal settlements to find out what the needs are when it comes to these children and teenagers. Saturday I drove to Khayelitsha to visit a good friend, Lucia, who knows a lot about the social problems in the urban communities around Cape Town. We discussed the life unfolding on the streets just outside her window and at the end of the day we had decided on two main groups: childheaded households and pregnant teenage mothers:
Childheaded household
HIV and AIDS is a big reason why many South African children are living in a house without an adult caretaker. These children do not only need basic things like food and shelter – but are often traumatized and trying to deal with their parents death or disappearing, on their own. At the same time many of these children are themselves infected, because the virus was transmitted to them from their mother.
Teenage pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy is another big problem, especially in the Western Cape, and these girls are often left on their own with their child, or forced to an abortion due to poverty and lack of support. HIV and AIDS is also a problem for these girls, because they are  pressurized to have sex and do not have the power to force their partners to use a condom. Or they are forced to prostitution to be able to provide for their children.
To avoid the stigmatization of these girls in relation to the HIV and AIDS stigma, it would be necessary to start up a project for all pregnant teenage mothers in a designated area. This doesn’t prevent us from having, at the same time, the facilities, knowledge and resources to provide special care and support for the HIV positive teenage mothers in the program.
By helping these girls you also help their children to a better life – if you want to help children and create healthy families, you have to approach the parents as well. Preventive work is, in the long run, the best approach.

Jeg har nu været afsted i snart to uger – tiden hernede går skræmmende hurtigt! Men er meget tilfreds med den information og de kontakter, jeg allerede har fået. Gennem mine tidligere studier har jeg hovedsageligt tilbragt min tid i Khayelitsha, men de sidste to uger har jeg haft muligheden for at opleve både Kayamandi og Langa på tættere hold. Socialt og økonomisk er begge områder meget lig Khayelitsa, men de er mindre og derfor til dels mere overskuelige at bevæge sig rundt i.
De sidste ugers besøg i Khayalitsha, Kayamandi og Langa har givet mig en masse gode kontakter og har også hjulpet mig til at opnå et mere klart billede af den fokusgruppe, som NDA vil arbejde med.
Den ene fokusgruppe er familier, som alene består af børn under 18 år. Årsagerne hertil er mange, men oftest er forældrene døde af aids eller har forladt børnene pga. alkohol eller andre misbrugsproblemer. De bor så oftest i nærheden, men er ikke i stand til at tage sig af deres børn. Børn som lever uden en voksens støtte, mangler ikke kun mad og husly, men har brug for rådgivning, omsorg og en voksen person, som de kan stole på. Jeg er overbevist om, at NDA kan gøre meget for at hjælpe disse børn til en fair start i livet.
Den anden gruppe er de mange unge piger, som  bliver gravide. Ifølge de oplysninger jeg har fået fra skoler og lokale organisationer, så synes denne gruppe at være overladt meget til sig selv. Det er et område, hvor der er hårdt brug for hjælp, og hvor der samtidig kan gøres meget. Det er ikke kun pigerne, der kan hjælpes til en bedre fremtid – men også deres børn.

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