Parents of children who are HIV positive, frequently face overwhelming challenges. They are often single parents, suffering poverty, physical ill-health social stigma and social isolation. All these challenges, together with the fact that they themselves have often not had a decent education, make it very unlikely that they would appreciate the vitally important principles of early childhood development (ECD). We have become acutely aware of the fact that many babies and children coming into the project with their mothers were not reaching age-appropriate developmental milestones.
This observation was of great concern to us, because of the serious consequences facing children who are not school-ready when entering the educational system. Imagine the distress of perpetual failure, as you fall behind, because year after year, your deficient developmental skill-set lets you down. Recurrent failure at school must impact significantly on one’s potential to develop into a healthy, confident and resilient young adult. We feel compelled to address the issue of optimal Early Childhood Development amongst the growing number of babies and children that attend the bead work project with their mothers and/or grannies.
Sufficient funding will allow us to provide educational toys and equipment, as well as a safe play and learning area for babies and children, and to employ a specialist Occupational therapist, trained in ECD work. Our aim is to provide mothers and grannies - through one-on-one sessions - with ECD materials and skills they can use to optimise their children’s cognitive and physical development at home.
We would also wish, through the Kidz Positive Foundation, to extend support to some of the more needy adolescent children of the beadwork mothers, who may have special educational requirements.
In parallel with our developmental support for children and the youth, we wish to assist individual women who are particularly motivated to improve their qualifications, in a bid to increase their employment opportunities.
These were our aims and goals when the world was hit by COVID19 and the beadwork project had to go in lockdown. Orders from all over the world, which would have provided the mothers with a good, ongoing weekly income, were understandably cancelled.
Many of our bead workers support their own mothers, as well as several children. Several women have adopted children of sisters who died of AIDS. Very few have any financial support from the fathers of their children. Several mothers support ten or more dependents.
The burden these women now have to bear has become even more impossible, heavier than many can imagine.
Our response to the challenge of the Covid-19 epidemic has been to utilise some of the Kidz Positive Foundation’s financial resources as an emergency fund to provide our bead workers with weekly food vouchers to redeem at their local supermarkets. This initiative has enabled these providers to keep food on the table for their dependants.
Madiba once said: ‘May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears. Thank you for supporting our choice. These are indeed very challenging times, but you have helped us to make a significant difference.
We trust that your support will continue to sustain our hopes.