Orphans and Vulnerable Children
What is a ‘child affected by AIDS’?
AC-AF uses the term ‘child affected by AIDS’ instead of ‘AIDS Orphans’ to avoid the stigmatisation of children associated with the word ‘orphan’ and emphasises that a child is not necessarily infected with HIV although their parents may have died as a result of an AIDS related disease.
What definition of ‘orphan’ does AC-AF use in your programming?
According to the United Nations, an orphan is a child that has lost one or both parents. It is estimated that more than 16 million children under 18 years old worldwide, have been orphaned by AIDS (meaning that one or both of their parents passed away from AIDS related illnesses).
Of this number, over 90% of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. (UNAIDS)
HIV and AIDS
Is there a cure for HIV?
No. Despite many myths having developed over the years, there is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. There are medications available that can successfully prevent HIV from replicating within the body, meaning that HIV is no longer the ‘death sentence’ it was once believed to be. People living with HIV can live long and prosperous lives when effective treatment is available. Part of AC-AF programming is to encourage children and youth to understand and access appropriate medications and to live a healthy lifestyle focusing upon physical and mental well-being.
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS is the collection of symptoms, diseases and infections associated with the weakened immune system caused by the presence of the virus within the human body. It is important to distinguish the cause (HIV) and the effect/impact (AIDS), since a person can be infected with HIV and not show symptoms for many years
What is the “ABC method” of prevention?
The ABC method is one of the approaches used by AC-AF when teaching prevention techniques to participants in out programming, recognising the reality that youth will either already be in a sexual relationship or likely to be engaging in sexual intercourse in the near future.
A – “Abstain” – This is a person’s decision not to engage in sexual intercourse with another person. This is the most effective way of preventing the transmission of HIV as it is avoiding any form of sexual relations.
B – “Be Faithful” – When a person does enter into a sexual relationship, being faithful will mean that both the person and their partner make the decision not to engage in any sexual relations with any other person.
C – “Use Condoms” – When a person is engaging in sexual intercourse, the correct use of condoms is the most effective method of preventing the transmission of HIV, by providing a barrier preventing the bodily fluids of a person living with HIV from potentially entering the bloodstream of their partner. Even when partners are faithful to each other, the use of condoms will prevent the transmission of HIV and/or any sexually transmitted infection previously contracted. Using condoms will prevent any future transmission if one partner does not remain faithful.
Where We Work
Why do you work in sub-Saharan Africa?
By 2011, there were an estimated 23.5million adults and children living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. This is approximately 69% of the 34 million adults and children throughout the world living with HIV and AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa also includes 92% of pregnant women living with HIV. In particular, South Africa and Swaziland has been particularly affected with 25.9% of adults in Swaziland living with HIV, while South Africa has the highest number of people in the world living with HIV and AIDS with an estimated 5.6 million. With an estimated 1.8 million new infections throughout sub-Saharan Africa in 2011, there continues to be a need for education and awareness of HIV and AIDS, as well as creating an atmosphere where people living with HIV can be free from stigmatisation and discrimination. Although the access to treatment is improving, there were still 1.2 million deaths from AIDS related diseases in 2011, requiring a comprehensive and immediate response to the orphan crisis (UNAIDS).
If HIV is not generally as prevalent outside of sub-Saharan Africa, why do you run programming internationally?
Although the largest proportion of people living with HIV is in sub-Saharan Africa, a third of those living with HIV are from countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2001 and 2011, there were increases in the number of people living with HIV in all regions of the world. As more effective treatment continues to improve the life expectancy for people living with HIV, there is a greater need to ensure that we create an environment free from stigma and discrimination. However, with the number of new infections actually increasing in some regions (including North America and East Asia – but not sub-Saharan Africa) in 2011 compared with figures released for 2001, education on the ability to avoid transmission becomes increasingly significant. HIV and AIDS continues to be a global challenge that affects children and youth throughout the world from a diverse range of backgrounds, and AC-AF programming will remain responsive to that need.
Why does AC-AF concentrate their international programming in Tanzania?
When AC-AF was founded, a series of country studies were undertaken to evaluate the suitability of AC-AF programming to meet the needs of each country and the ability to operate in each potential country. This information was evaluated and based on various identified factors, Tanzania was chosen as the first programming country for AC-AF to operate in. Similar baseline studies are undertaken when deciding upon the specific areas and communities in which AC-AF will work.
How is your programming sustainable?
The ethos of AC-AF is based upon the notion of sustainability, both in programming and organisational structures. The OVCSP was created upon the principles of long term sustainability in order to provide a holistic approach that would educate and empower youth rather than simply creating a temporary fix to the orphan crisis. Financially, the AC-AF micro-credit loans are paid back by families into a community fund (as opposed to the organisation), in order to allow more families to be enrolled into the OVCSP and to reduce dependency upon external funding, this generation of orphans with the ability to support themselves, their families and their community. In turn, the professional development component relies upon partnerships with existing local businesses, without the need to create new infrastructure. Our programming within communities in Africa is based upon the notion of community involvement, through dialogue and the creation of community councils. Utilising the resources and knowledge of the local community strengthens the ability to reach the most vulnerable children as recognised by local leaders, as well as ensuring the participation of the local community in the issues affecting them. Skills transfer is central to our interaction with the community, with our team members and all of the children and youth in programming (in the OVCSP and u+me=we), so that progress is not limited to the organisational capacity of AC-AF.
What do you mean by the term ‘holistic’?
When working with children in our programming, we recognise that issues and challenges children face can be interconnected. For example, if a child does not have any financial resources, it can be difficult to access an education. However, without good physical and mental health, it can be hard for a child to go to school each day even if they have the financial resources to do so. Our programming looks to the child as a whole to ensure that they are able to cope with any challenge in their life and is not simply focusing on one specific aspect of the child’s life.
What makes AC-AF unique?
The ethos within AC-AF is that we set an example to the community. We are composed of committed and passionate volunteers who come from a variety of backgrounds. Each are treated with equality regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, health or any other status that have traditionally brought stigmatisation and discrimination. This is an example we set to the community where children and youth are listened to, where orphans are simply children, and those living with HIV or AIDS are simply people. Throughout our programming, we look to develop unique programming that will respond to the needs of the community. AC-AF is the only known organisation in the world to provide microcredit loans to children and youth under the age of 18, we challenge assumptions as to the future employability of orphans, and we look to strengthen the youths’ ability to solve issues rather than relying upon others. Through u+me=we, we work with the most vulnerable age group (18-25years) to the transmission of HIV and we use art to create interest and empower youth. Ultimately, through all of our programming, we provide children and youth with an environment free from judgement or condemnation.
How do I know how my donation is spent?
AC-AF endeavours to make sure that we spend all of our revenues as most effectively as possible. We aim to ensure that we spend the majority of our revenues on programming costs to reach the children and youth within the communities we work in. We work hard to keep operational costs low and in line with the requirements of the Canadian Revenue Authority, but acknowledge the need to maintain efficient offices and teams. Our accounts are independently reviewed and published in our annual reports that are freely available to the public.
Does AC-AF issue tax receipts for donations?
As AC-AF is registered charity through the Canadian Revenue Agency (BN# 84553 6291 RR0001), we are able to issue a charitable tax receipt for any Canadian donations over $25 (CDN). Tax receipts are normally issued within three weeks of receipt of a donation and will be sent by post to the address provided by the donor. AC-AF will not normally issue a Canadian tax receipt for donations made outside of Canada, unless requested to do so.
Can I direct my donation towards a specific project?
Private donations made to AC-AF will go towards programming and administration costs as required, unless otherwise stipulated by AC-AF. As a general rule, we are unable to provide private donors with the choice as to the programme to support, to ensure that the donations can be used as effectively as possible based on the current needs of the organisation and programmes. Grants and corporate sponsorship will often be allocated to AC-AF based upon proposals for specific programmes and projects. In this case, AC-AF always looks to ensure that the funds used are in accordance with the agreements and stipulations of the grant making body or corporation.
Can I go to Africa with your organisation?
There are a number of ways that you can volunteer or work with AC-AF (visit our ‘get involved’ page to know how). However, in order to maintain the sustainability of our programmes in Tanzania, AC-AF does not normally provide members of the general public with the opportunity to travel to Africa on short term placements or trips.