Habitat for Humanity is working to provide shelter for children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in a joint project with Opportunity International. Pilot projects in Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique combine Habitat’s housing expertise with the microfinance services of Opportunity International. The five-year project will significantly impact the income and shelter needs of orphans and vulnerable children.
The burden of the HIV/AIDS pandemic falls heavily on women and children. Two-thirds of newly infected people in Africa are young women. And many children have become caregivers for their dying parents. In Zambia alone, there are more than 1 million orphaned children, of which 73.8% were orphaned as a result of AIDS.
There is an unquestionable link between poverty and HIV/AIDS. When AIDS strikes, for example, family income drops by 40 to 80 percent and medical expenses skyrocket by 400 percent. With AIDS, death comes slowly, depleting productivity and household assets. AIDS has exacerbated the problem of poverty housing in communities throughout Africa. Extended families reach out to orphans to take them in, but their homes are already over-crowded.
One example of how Habitat and Opportunity International are working together is the Youth Apprenticeship Program in Uganda. Opportunity’s micro-business owners mentor older orphans in a business trade. These children, upon completion of the program, qualify for a startup business loan from Opportunity and are targeted by Habitat as candidates for a home. In addition, the program provides HIV/AIDS education and health services.
Habitat is accelerating the pace at which it is building homes in communities heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS, enabling families in these communities to care for orphans as part of their extended family. In addition to building new homes in these communities, Habitat helps qualified families do much-needed repairs on existing houses and build additional rooms.
In another innovative approach, Habitat is building housing clusters for orphan-headed households. Houses are built in close proximity to each other with a guardian or volunteer caregiver in the cluster to provide guidance and support to the group.
By the end of the five year project, Habitat for Humanity and Opportunity International anticipate providing shelter for more than 4,000 children with 440 children having participated in youth apprenticeship programs. Over-all 40,000 new businesses will be financed and 64,000 clients provided with HIV/AIDS training.