Orphaned and vulnerable children who live in poverty face enormous struggles that span a broad range of issues. In addition to not having their basic needs met, these children might also be HIV positive, suffer from abuse, have to work to support the household, and develop a limited view on life from within their very confined worlds. For children in these situations, it is difficult to develop a good sense of self worth.
Knowing the depth of the effects on these children, Family of Hope Services does much more than provide education and food to the children they support.
75% of FHS Kids Require Psychosocial Support
“At least 75% of the kids at FHS do not have the social support to develop confidence and reap the full benefit of their education if we do not help them holistically,” says Abigail Bachopi, Founder and Director of Family of Hope Services. “So we supplement our classroom education and homework assistance with programming to build self-esteem. We also make home visits to ensure our children are safe and healthy when they’re not at the Centre,” says Abigail.
One-on-one counseling and group counseling are the most critical components of the programming. At least 65% of FHS children suffer from some type of trauma and need emotional support to overcome it. This is done in partnership with the P.E.A.C.E. Centre., a Namibian institute devoted to helping people overcome the negative impacts of violence, and to build self-esteem.
Discussion Groups and Drama Clubs Help Kids Explore Issues
As part of their developmental approach, Family of Hope Services coordinates discussion groups. Kids are grouped in different age categories and they identify an issue or concern they would like to explore each week. Then, within their group, they address ideas, problems, fears, helplessness, hopefulness, and come up with solutions and actions. Through role playing in their Drama Club they can provide observations, feedback, and input on the issue they are exploring. Examples could include topics such as living with HIV, the stigma surrounding it, and how to tell others; what to do if you are being abused; how to respect yourself and others; how to attend to one’s personal hygiene; or how to be friendly. Choosing their topic for the week gives them an opportunity to explore these things not only with their peers and but also with caring adults who have their best interests at heart. They gain confidence knowing they are not alone and that they have a support network.
Educational Trips and Monthly Fun Day
Other activities include educational trips to various organizations, nature reserves, and centres. A possible trip might be to the museum where they’ll learn about the exhibits, how a museum is set up, and the types of jobs it takes to operate such a place. They gain exposure and further develop their knowledge which excites them about life.
The children also have a monthly Fun Day where games and activities are organized and they learn about leadership, sharing, being respectful, and having fun. This gives them an opportunity to get out of their environment and try things they’ve never tried before or that they don’t have an opportunity to do on a regular basis. They also have a chance to play in a safe and clean environment.
Life Skills Camp to Develop Leadership and Self-Esteem
Family of Hope Services also coordinates an annual ‘life-skills’ camp for their children in the Remedial program (school drop outs who are being fast-tracked to get back into the government school system). These kids are removed from their comfort zone and spend a week in an isolated place. In addition to many activities, they are challenged to develop leadership skills, to be self-assertive, to help others with problems, and to help each other. They take what they learn and go back to help their friends. Leaders are selected by the children from within the group and these youth help out at the Centre, leading activities and games on Fun Day.
As part of on-going monitoring, Care Team members at Family of Hope Services make home visits to follow-up on kids. These volunteers are trained in basic counseling, sponsored by Terre des Hommes out of Italy. Additional training to work with children is provided by the P.E.A.C.E. Centre. Through this training they learn how to identify problems and to discuss issues with both the children and their guardians.
“All combined, we see remarkable changes in many of our children,” says Abigail. “We are continually improving what we do as well, with input from our kids, so we know what they truly need.”