Aug 11, 2010

Empowering Children through Educational Support

Buds of Christ mission is to empower children and enable well-being with the main focus on rural orphan and vulnerable children from the lower socio-economic class. As part of it’s mission, Buds of Christ supports the educational needs of children to keep them in school, as most families see these expenses as a burden. Most of the children are complete orphans (who have lost both parents) or semi-orphans (one parent alive) and looked after by aged grandparents or distant relatives. Children are from government school and education is offered free of cost, children are given only text books; while note books ,uniform and other materials have to bought by children. The basic cost for every child comes to at least Rs 1000/year, which is unaffordable for most of the families where there is no male bread winner.

Buds of Christ tries to mobilize support every year to support the children basic educational cost. The total number of children reached through Buds of Christ as on June 2010 is 107, out of that 14 children are school drop outs. And all the 14 children are in the age group of 12 and 16 years and family economic condition has been given the cause of school drop outs among the affected children. Of the 93 children, one child from each family was supported; preference was given to children who are living with HIV as often they are the most neglected out of the affected children and orphans who have lost both parents.

No of children received support for School Uniforms 21
No of children received support for Books, Guide and Notebooks 32
TOTAL number of children who benefited through educational support 53

Buds of Christ needs many more hands to continue to support the educational needs of children who have lost their parents. If you would like to join hands with us please contact us at budsofchrist (at) gmail (dot) com

Aug 4, 2010

Support from peers gave a positive outlook towards life

I am Kannan, for me acceptance and support from peers like me make me feel more confident and have a positive outlook towards life. I am representing vetri kootam, young children group in Tiruchengode taluk of Namakkal district in Tamilnadu. It is the children group formed through the initiative of Buds of Christ on October 2009. Now we are currently 20 members actively functioning as a support group and advocacy group in ensuring the rights of children affected by HIV are safeguarded.

I am 16 years old and living with HIV for the last 3 years. The importance of knowing about the infection and the prevention measures one needs to take was a learning that I received after knowing my status. Though text books and curriculum includes topics on reproductive health and sex organs, the topic is just dealt and sometimes even skipped by the teacher. This arouses keen interest among young children like me, which can also lead to risk conditions .There is a need for proper access to right and quality information, especially on vital topics like sexual and reproductive health and should be easily dealt by the school teachers.

I was studying in 9th standard and due to my poor health condition, I was tested for HIV. I also had TB co-infection for which I was treated in the hospital and later referred to government hospital for further treatment for HIV. There the counselor provided me with the right and complete information that enabled me to cope with the knowledge of knowing my status and also further continue my studies. The need for proper counseling helps children like me to cope with the information about our status. In our support group, there are some children who have not been provided with complete information, so are casual about their Anti-retro viral treatment as well as positive prevention.

In addition to proper counseling, proper support systems should be in place. Though I was the only one affected by HIV in my family, I was not discriminated by my parents or sister. But I was restricted to be open about my status to my neighbors as the stigmatized perception of HIV is very strong in our community. Living with the virus is one challenging fear but more than that being identified as HIV positive, especially while accessing treatment in the hospital or by looking at the label of the medicines. Knowledge about HIV and AIDS should be made known to the people without a stigmatized perception among the community.

Though I was able to continue my education and complete my 10th standard, the side effects of ARV caused a great discomfort affecting my physical appearance had growth in the chest region and was mocked by my friends in school. This affected me, that I discontinue my education. Most of the children like me need a safe and positive environment, where we are accepted and encouraged.

Now if I am bold and confident it is with the support of children like me who have formed a support group (vetri kootam) to support one another psychologically in dealing with the psychological, physical and social challenges HIV imposes. Now I am studying digital designing with the support of Buds of Christ through its rural initiative for orphans and vulnerable children, Nalam Child Development Center.

My name is Kannan (name changed), Male, 16 years old, Tiruchengode, Tamilnadu INDIA

Reason for Buds of Christ's Existence

Buds of Christ emerged out of the need to empower children affected by HIV and AIDS. This instinct was sown deeply in my heart in 2003 when I worked closely with people living with HIV in a high prevalent district Namakkal, Tamilnadu; the issue that hit my heart hard was that the external funded project was unable to address the most deserving concern of children orphaned by HIV and AIDS. Though that project reached out to more than 2000 families, there were more than 3000 children in those communities and most of them were unattended. Children who were affected by HIV and AIDS were also at the brim of vulnerability as they started experiencing physical and sexual abuse; children dropping from school and getting into menial labour to support their sick parents; children living with HIV were not cared by family members; girls of HIV positive parents were getting married as early at 13 and 14 years of age. Having touched by these experiences and vulnerabilities of children, we realized the need to focus our work directly with orphans and vulnerable children.

On January 2007, Buds of Christ was registered as a public charitable trust with a vision to empower orphans and vulnerable children; and to enable well being in every sphere of their lives. When we thought about how we were going to proceed with our vision; Our inspiration is based on our core values; “Love the children, Listen to their voices and Lead them towards an empowered life.”