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Habitat for Humanity, Comic Relief strive to help AIDS orphans

Habitat for Humanity, Comic Relief strive to help AIDS orphans

Habitat for Humanity International, in partnership with Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity, has secured a $600,000 grant from Comic Relief to build cluster homes for Aids orphans in 10 communities in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian charity dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide. HFH works around the world with volunteers from all backgrounds, races and religions to build homes together with families in need. There are more than two billion people currently living in substandard housing around the world.

Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity is a not-for-profit organisation that provides a standardized structure to address the orphan crisis. NOAH’s primary objective is community mobilization and a comprehensive program to take care of the developmental, nutrition, shelter, clothing, education and health care needs of children affected by AIDS. The basic structure involves establishing a resource center in the local community linked to a local school.

In South Africa, at least 20 percent of adults are infected with HIV, approximately five million people. Already, more than 1.5 million children have lost one or both parents, and by 2010 even conservative estimates place the number of orphans at 2.3 million, higher estimates exceed four million.

AIDS orphans are particularly vulnerable to losing their homes when their parents die if they have no legal guardian and arrangements have not been made to protect their inheritance or provide for their care after their parents have gone. Protecting the family house is important for the psychological and physical well being of children. Children may find themselves homeless, with all the risks that brings, or living in temporary shelter. Unsanitary, temporary housing conditions, such as mud floors and leaking roofs, encourages the spread of disease, an acute problem for children and those with HIV-weakened immune systems.

In partnership with NOAH, HFH will encourage parents with HIV and AIDS to nominate a guardian for their children, and make arrangements for their children to remain in their family home in the community in which they have been brought up. This limits the damage that losing a parent has on a child, as they have the support of their own community around them.

HFH will renovate existing houses and build cluster homes for orphans that center around a parent-headed household. This would allow multiple orphan families the chance to have support from a guardian, while at the same time allowing the volunteer parents to keep the privacy of their own home. HFH hopes that this method will encourage more parents to become care-givers because it will enable them to keep their own family together as a unit. At the moment, extended families take in orphans, but they often do not have the adequate resources to provide for additional family members. Overcrowding can lead to increased stress and risk of abuse.

After-school care would be provided by a NOAH-led community center, at which children would receive emotional support, food, and grow their own vegetables. Age and strength permitting, the orphans will help to build their HFH homes, learning useful skills that they could use to build a living for their futures.

Working alongside local communities, complementary organisations and institutions, HFH aims to protect home tenure and shelter orphans while strengthening a community-centered cycle of prevention, care and support. Children will gain protective assets and wealth by owning a home. Youth will gain marketable skills through apprenticeships. And orphans will gain social networks by remaining in and working together with their community.

The Comic Relief grant will enable HFH and NOAH to improve the quality of life for approximately 1,500 HIV/AIDS affected orphans over three years. The experience gained will be shared with HFH offices and partner organisations who aim to replicate the project in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International is a Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 92 nations have built and sold more than 150,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

About Comic Relief
Comic Relief is a foundation seriously committed to helping end poverty and social injustice in the UK and the poorest countries in the world. They do this by raising money from the general public by actively involving them in events and projects that are innovative and fun; informing, educating, raising awareness and promoting social change; allocating the funds they raise in a responsible and effective way to a wide range of charities which they select after careful research; ensuring that their Red Nose Day fund-raising costs are covered by sponsorship in cash or in kind so that every penny raised goes to charity. Comic Relief was set up by comedians and uses comedy and laughter to get serious messages across, as well as making sure that everyone can have some fun at the same time. www.comicrelief.com.