Social Protection for Children Affected by AIDS - Experiences - Requested by UNICEF India

Response from BUDS OF CHRIST

What are your experiences with social protection interventions initiated to provide services specifically for children affected by AIDS?

Enabling children to continue their education:

Children Orphaned and under the care of Grandparents and children under the care of young widows living with HIV have been specially focused in our work among orphan and vulnerable children. Buds of Christ supports around 130 children registered with us in the two blocks Tiruchengode and Elachipalayam with Educational kits that include School Bags, guides, note books, school stationeries and school uniforms.

Govt School provides free textbooks to all children, uniforms to children registered under noon meal scheme.

OVC trust of Tamilnadu State AIDS control society has supported only 99 children in the district where 12000 PLHIV access ART center. We facilitate to get the forms and access the support deserving families.

Our support has been mobilized from individual, CBOs and faith based organizations.

Challenges in accessing educational support:
v     Note books, uniforms, Bags, Footwears, stationeries, lunch kits are not provided by govt which have to be met by parents and in the case of children affected by HIV, this cost is also expensive for most of them.
v     OVC Trust in Tamilnadu supports very minimal number of children in each district. For instance Namakkal the most affected district with 12000 PLHIV registered at ART center has support provision only for 99 children
v     Second round of support through OVC Trust for the current year is still pending for unsaid reasons
v     Since the educational support from OVC Trust doesn’t reach at right time (that is beginning of June) the money received in later part is spent on other needs of family rather than the educational support. Children continue to attend school and study without proper support materials

Support with nutrition:
Children living with HIV, in addition to treatment require good nutrition, which often is compromised especially those under the care of grandparents and widows from poor families. As most of them work as daily wagers, the income they earn is very less, so Buds of Christ has facilitated nutrition support with basic provisions (Rice, Oil, Dhal, Health mix, Pulses and Grains – worth Rs. 300per pack) for children living with HIV from deserving families. This has enabled better care by care takers and also improved health status of the child.

Challenges in PDS:
v     Most of the families also access the government public delivery system where rice is provided for Re 1 per kg in Tamilnadu, but the rice provided through PDS is not appetizing for children, as it is hard and bigger than the usual rice they eat. Our support is very minimal and as rice is the main product of consumption, it is seen as very essential influence to their health.

Psychosocial support:
Fortnightly Support groups have been found effective in addressing the psychological issues of children to a great extent. Adherence has improved among adolescent children living with HIV and access to care services has also improved, but there are certain children who need constant follow-up.

Treatment Education workshops for Adolescent Children
There is an increasing need for psycho-social support for children, especially the adolescents living with HIV. Some children when they become adolescents are moving in the denial stage and even access for care and treatment is casual, especially when affected with opportunistic infections due to the fear of being identified while accessing treatment centers.

Buds of Christ organized regular Treatment literacy workshops for children living with HIV (above 12 years) and continued such workshops with their elder siblings and caretakers to provide family support for CLHIV in managing and accessing services at ART Centers with support from HIVCF - ITPC

Challenges in Treatment
v     Some children have also shown casual attitude in adhering to ARV drugs. These conditions are attributed to less psychological support offered by the family members ,the emotional changes during adolescence has to be addressed ,which is often not provided in the current government programmes.
v     Lack of child friendly services at ART centers and absence of counselors sensitive to needs of children especially the adolescents

Improving the economic condition of the house hold:
As direct services like educational support and nutrition support are being provided, it has also been felt important the need to make the families independent and not become beneficiaries. So identifying the livelihood options for care takers and mobilizing support to help them initiate small business ad thereby support children’s future. WLHIV are also part of self-help groups in their respective villages. Some women have got access to loans and economic support from banks to carry out their businesses.

Which are the other existing social protection programmes or schemes that can benefit children affected by AIDS? How do such programmes and schemes benefit children affected by AIDS?

  1. OAP - Old age pension scheme and widow pension scheme -Though the scheme is available, lack of guidance has resulted in many grandparents and widows not availing the scheme. Through our center this has been networked and through this children are benefited.
  2. IAY Indra Avas Yojana Central govt scheme – Housing scheme that provides around Rs. 60,000/- to construct homes
  3. KVT – Kalaignar Veetuvasathi Thittam – Tamilnadu Govt housing scheme where one lakh is provided for thatched roof houses in rural districts
  4. OVC Trust – TNSACS supported educational and health support for children affected by HIV and AIDS
  5. Free Legal Aid – provided at ART center in Namakkal
  6. THADCO Loan for SC families – Rs. 10,000 provided as grant to start some micro business mostly for buying cow or goat
  7. Tailoring Machines provided for women – Social Welfare Dept of District Office
  8. Houses at Samathuvapuram scheme of Tamilnadu Govt 

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