Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Weaving the Safety Net for Vulnerable Youth Affected by HIV/AIDS in Kenya

Event Title: Weaving the Safety Net for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children and Youth Affected by HIV/AIDS
Sponsor(s): Interaction
Location: Interaction
Date: September 22, 2006
Time: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Approximate number of Attendees: 20
Intern Attending: Kristin Broyhill

Featured Speaker: Daniel Kinodi from Kenya’s Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC) Taskforce of the Christian Children’s Fund

Christian Children’s Fund (CCF) in Kenya has taken on a five year project (2005-2010) in conjunction with the Millennium Development Goals to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS. The project is targeting the 63,325 counted Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC) in the Kiambu and Thika districts that lie outside of Nairobi. The program’s stated objectives are to strengthen family and community responses in order to provide care and support to OVC’s and to increase the capacity of OVC’s to meet their own psychosocial, educational, vocational training, security, healthcare, protection, food and shelter needs.

The major focus of CCF’s project is training local persons, such as chiefs, teachers and social workers, in relevant legal areas. These include rights of the child, rights of women, rights of those infected with HIV/AIDS, rights of the worker, the making of wills and the Kenyan law of succession. Their training is directed by lawyers and is designed to enable the paralegals to empower themselves, as recognized local leaders, to use law as an instrument for behavior change. The hope is that they can influence communities to discard harmful cultural practices that promote HIV/AIDS, such as widow inheritance and female genital mutilation. Their role in the community is to create legal awareness, assist in cases regarding OVC’s, work closely with home-based care providers, and advise community members on legal matters. Paralegals dedicate their time on a volunteer basis.

Currently, 274 community leaders have been trained as paralegals and 514 children have been trained on child rights. These children are then encouraged to counsel their peers with the knowledge they have acquired.

A number of challenges have presented themselves since the advent of the program. These include inadequate finances, the enormous number of cases, the length of time required to settle abuse cases, inadequate monitoring systems, inadequate legal infrastructure and threats towards the paralegals. In order to overcome these challenges and increase the strength and success of the program, CCF plans to do the following: continue to build strategic partnerships for setting up Child Protection Units, strengthen linkages between the community and the service providers, lobby the government for additional resources and build stronger monitoring systems.

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