I am Project Coordinator for a local NGO based in Zambia called CINDI (Children in Distress). CINDI has been working in partnership with Action Against Hunger since 2004. Our main aim is to support orphans and other vulnerable children within their extended family structures.
Zambia suffers staggering national HIV rates of 14%. In the area of Kitwe where we are based the HIV rates exceed the national average at around 17%. It is therefore no surprise that this influences the context in which we are working. The main issues that we try to tackle like hunger, malnutrition and food security have a very close link to HIV. Most of the children that we support come from families that have been affected by HIV or have lost their parents to AIDS.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of our programmes and reduce malnutrition, we go to the root of the problem and try to provide an integrated type of assistance to each household. So while we introduce HIV prevention measures to household members, we also aim to mitigate the impact of HIV on the household’s coping capacities.
Since 2008 we have run the Twashuka Centre, a school health and nutrition programme for orphaned children from two to six years old. Originally the centre was just a pre-school but we redesigned the programme when we discovered that some family structures were instable and that children were being neglected at home or coming to school without food.
Consequently, alongside our education and health facilities, we extended the programme to include the provision of food and children’s rights education to the carers of these children. We invite experts from different fields to come and conduct sessions. These sessions aim to make carers more aware of the rights of their child and the implications of not adhering to those at household level.
The main motivation for me is to give hope to the people that we work with and to see a smile on people’s faces, particularly those of the children's. Families are really appreciative when something good has been done.
The cause is also particularly close to me as I received schooling help from CINDI from grade 9 until I completed high school.