Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity

I have neglected to tell you what my main job is here in South Africa. I am working for an organization called NOAH which stands for Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity. NOAH provides services to orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). It was started in 2002 and there are now 101 NOAH (Arks) locations throughout KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces. Statistics say that an average of 1 in 3 people in South Africa has HIV/AIDS. There are approximately 2.5 million orphans and many more vulnerable children and about half of those orphans are due to the AIDS pandemic.
I am working with one of the Arks in a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal. We are based out of a local primary school. We are currently serving 276 OVCs in a school of about 500 students (grades K-7). And there are many more students who would greatly benefit from our services. The biggest service we provide is our meal program. We serve approximately 260 hot meals a day. For many of the children this is the only meal they will get the whole day. We also provide after school activities, bereavement counseling, daycare, HIV/AIDS education, and life skills classes.
So where do I fit into this? These first three months at site are called Community Integration (or as volunteers refer to it as "Lock Down"). I am learning about the organization and figuring out where I will fit in and what I can offer. I am also to use these first months to continue learning the language and to perform a Needs Assessment on the community. There are a lot of great opportunities here for me and I can't wait to begin!


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