Flourishing in the OVCSP

OVCSP ChildrenOver the last 9 months the Orphan and Vulnerable Children Support Programme (OVCSP) has been in full swing.  With 25 new children entering into the program, we have seen a lot of growth and a lot of change.  As such, here is a little update from our Programme Manager:

It has been both an exciting and gratifying 9 months with the OVCSP. With 25 new young people to integrate, April and May were very much focused on “getting to know you” games and activities. We were learning more about the individual children, their likes and dislikes, and their needs. The children were also getting a feel for each other. Initially, many children were very shy and reluctant to speak in front of their peers. However, children now come to meetings early and like to hang around and play games after the meetings as well. For many children, the OVCSP meetings on Saturdays have become the highlight of their week, a place where they can come to learn, play, and interact with friends they don’t normally see. It is not a stretch to say that we have developed a true family atmosphere.

While we have continued to integrate games and arts projects into our weekly meetings, we have also expanded the range of activities undertaken with the children. In June, we planted AC-AF’s first community garden. The premise behind the garden is that children from both OVCSP and our weekly Homework Club will contribute to the maintenance of the garden and in return they will divide the harvest amongst themselves. For many Tanzanian households, obtaining a balanced diet is a serious challenge, so we feel the community garden is a great way to make sure the orphans we work with are getting enough vitamins and nutrition. We have already harvested Chinese Cabbage twice, and are looking forward to harvesting carrots and tomatoes in the near future.  This is just the start of this project, and as we move forward we hope to integrate other food possibilities.

OVCSP Community Garden

Youth decorate containers for planting.

More recently, we have been focusing on the preparation of families to receive their Microcredit Loans. A loan is a serious responsibility for anybody, but it is especially important for the children within OVCSP to understand exactly what a loan is, clarifying the ways in which it can benefit them, as well as the limitations and rules associated with receiving a loan. The children have already completed their individual Microcredit Loan manuals which include a number of different activities and questions designed to enhance their general understanding of loans, and to make them more comfortable with the prospect of taking a loan from AC-AF. We are now working with the families to create monthly budgets that will determine the size of the loans they will ultimately receive. These loans will greatly alleviate the financial pressures that the children’s guardians experience and will give the children a better chance to fulfill their potential.

The next several weeks and months promise to bring more exciting developments as we continue to get to know and assist the children we are working with. In the new year, we will be focusing on the children’s health and, as the start of the new school year, we will be working with the schools to ensure that the children do not face barriers to learning.

The AC-AF Team feels privileged to be a part of this process as we see every day how much our work benefits the youth in the programme.  We look forward to keeping you updated on all our activities.

Patrick’s Story

To create further understanding of our programming, we offer this story:

Patrick is 16 years old and in the OVCSP.  He is a young man with learning difficulties that have spilled over and had an impact on his life in general.  When questioned during the OVCSP selection process, he would stand quietly while letting either his younger brother or his older sister answer for him.  He also failed to finish primary school as a result of a teaching staff that were without the resources and expertise to accommodate his needs. When he first came to the programme he was unable to read, write, or perform basic mathematical operations.  Lacking confidence, he suffered ridicule from peers and neighbours.  Patrick seemed anxious in his interactions with AC-AF team members, with the other children in OVCSP, and even with his family.

Crossing the River

Patrick (third from left) and other OVCSP youth initiate a game of 'crossing the river'

Patrick then began coming to the AC-AF office during the week for extra help with math and reading, in addition to attending the regular meetings held on Saturdays. He also enjoys arriving early on Saturdays so that he can work on his math and language skills or to simply spend time with the team and colour/draw. Since entering the programme Patrick has made tremendous progress.  He can now complete arithmetic worksheets with little to no assistance from the AC-AF team, and is working hard on his reading and writing skills.  He has also grown close with his fellow OVCSP members and is often the centre of attention at weekly meetings.  It has truly been a joy to watch him grow and mature, and we look forward to witnessing his continued development in the future.

For more information on this and other AC-AF programmes, click here.
To support the growth of Patrick and the other youth in the OVCSP, donate here.

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