The New Times (Kigali)

8 March 2014

Rwanda: Supporting Children Affected By Aids Is a Noble Calling

Patrick Nimubona is the project coordinator, Children Affected By HIV/AIDS (CHABHA), an association that supports grassroots projects working with children affected the pandemic. He shared CHABHA's overall mission with Moses Opobo.

Outline CHABHA's mandate:

CHABHA simply supports Community Based Organisations and grassroots associations already working with children affected by Aids in Rwanda and Burundi. We don't go directly to the children, but support organisations that support such children.

CHABHA's leaders understand the children's needs because they too lost their parents at a young age. They formed associations of children affected by HIV/AIDS, and registered them with local officials.

Currently, we support three such groups: Amahoro Association, in Gasabo Kacyiru (1,500 members); AGAPE, in Niboyi sector, Kicukiro District (300 members); and AJESOV association in Bugesera (300 members). We also support another grassroots association in Burundi, Mubafashe Association (100 members).

How exactly does this support trickle down to beneficiaries?

Our belief is that children have a fundamental right to health, safety, and a nurturing environment in their dependent years. We foster physical, social, and emotional health, education, and economic independence of children who have been made vulnerable by the AIDS pandemic.

We support children in different areas like education (school fees, scholastic materials); and after school programme, where we assist children in English tutoring, drama, and music. The children are given health insurance, and participate in life skills workshops.

We believe that working directly with community-based programmes is the most effective way to promote the well-being of vulnerable children.

How does the association prepare beneficiaries to break the yoke of dependence?

Older children are encouraged to become independent. Many go to secondary school, while others take part in Project Independence, a vocational training internship programme.

The project's graduates attain skills that they can deploy in restaurants, kitchens, welding and construction sites, beauty shops, tailoring and plumbing, to mention but a few. We work with two groups that are engaged in income-generating activities: Agri-business, and weaving. In Burundi we have a micro-credit project. We have the component of psycho-social support, where we have life skills support, home visits etc.

The association's staff and leaders work together and help one another develop organisational skills such as budget and finances, leadership, grant writing, and reporting. To gain skills in training the children, they have taken part in numerous workshops on counseling, mental health, and hygiene.

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