Report on OVC Panel Presentations
CCIH Conference, May 24-26, Buckeystown, Maryland
Improving the Well-being of Orphans and Vulnerable Children was the focus of two
Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) panel presentations at this year‘s CCIH
Conference. The panel presenters and the topics they addressed appear in the table below
followed by presentation highlights.
Panel #1 - 10:30am-12:00pm on Sunday Title: Promoting Awareness and Action
Paul Freeman, Consultant to State of the Community-Based Primary Health Care:
World’s Children The answer to addressing child mortality
Moses Dombo, Director, Integrated Enhancing Community and Faith Based
Programs—HIV/AIDS, World Vision Responses
Jack Bryant, Professor, Johns Hopkins Working with OVC in African Slums
School of Public Health; University of
Virginia Faculty of Health Sciences; and the
Tropical Institute for Community Health and
Development (TICH) in Kisumu, Kenya.
Panel #2 - 2:30-4:00pm on Monday May Title: Implementing Productive
George Osoo, Health Specialist, Changing lives of children in distress
Compassion International through the Church: Compassion
International’s OVC Response
Thebisa Chaava, Technical Advisor for
HIV/AIDS Activities, The Slavation Women's Savings--Saving Children's
Dorothy Brewster-Lee, HIV Senior Spiritual Transformation: The Correlation
Technical Advisor, Catholic Relief Services between Faith and Risky Behavior in OVC
Paul Freeman -
UNICEF‘s State of the World‘s Children (SOWC) 2008 focuses on Child Survival. In particular
Community Based Primary Health Care (CBPHC) is advocated as an approach to addressing the
ten million child deaths that still occur in developing countries despite current approaches.
By 2010 it is estimated that there will be 50 million OVC in Africa. (This includes
children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.) Community based primary health care is an approach
that offers some realistic hope of addressing the health needs of so many children.
In health care planning it is important to provide for a ―continuum of care‖ that proceeds
from individuals to households to communities on the one hand and from pre-pregnant
teens to pregnant teens to babies, to toddlers and so on through the life cycle.
Kidman, R., Petrow, S.E., Heymann, S.J. 2007. Africa‘s orphan crisis: Two community-
based models of care. AIDS Care, March 2007; 19(3): 326-329.
Roby, Jini L. & Shaw, Stacey A. 2008. Evaluation of a community-based orphan care
program in Uganda. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services
UNICEF & UNAIDS. 2006 (August). Africa’s Orphaned and Vulnerable Generations:
Children Affected by AIDS, Executive Summary. New York, NY: The United Nations
Children‘s Fund. email@example.com, www.unicef.org
USAID Quality Assurance Project and UNICEF Health Care Improvement Project. 2008.
The evidence base for programming for children affected by hiv/aids in low prevalence
and concentrated epidemic countries. (Working Paper) New York, NY: UNICEF.
Moses Dombo –
The number of children affected by (living with or having lost parents to HIV/AIDS) continues to
increase. Families, communities and institutions of faith remain the primary responders to the
pandemic in general and to the children affected by AIDS in particular. The amount of money
channeled into HIV/AIDS programming has increased, but can it be said that the quality of life
of the OVC has improved? Have the families, communities and especially communities of faith
become stronger and better prepared to deal with the long-term challenges caused by growing
numbers of children without proper parental guidance? What are some of the gaps that
organizations supporting children need to plug and how; in order to enhance the sustainability of
Education: School provides stability in children‘s lives and education equips them for the
future. In Africa, where so many children are out of school, we need to emphasize
completion of school and identify factors that prevent this.
Example: ―I heard a teacher in Tanzania tell the children that they must wear a uniform
and that if they don‘t have one then they must come with their parent the next day.‖ This
kind of insensitivity discriminates against orphans who had no parents.
Grandparents: 58% of African orphans are cared for by their grandparents. How do we
target this group? Start with income generation and household development.
Environment: Need to focus less on individual children and focus on the environment.
Example: taking orphans into a family affects a family‘s children as well as the orphans.
How do families deal with their own children?
Perspective: Children with HIV/AIDS have to live with this ALL of their lives.
Jack began to focus on the problems of OVC in Urban Slums of Africa in 2005, in response to
request by UN Habitat, Nairobi. He has given special attention to community-based primary
health care in slum settings and has attempted to incorporate findings from recent advances in the
science of early childhood development.
He works directly with communities to ensure that OVC (children under 5) receive loving,
nurturing, protective, stimulating care. This is essential for building a sense of self-worth, social-
emotional stability, and cognitive development that are foundational for a good life. In contrast,
neglectful, non-loving care is disruptive and dismissive of more positive factors that are necessary
for a good life. A priority concern is to promote awareness of these factors across Africa.
Case study: ―Miolongo‖, Kenya (a ‗truck-stop‖ on the Mombasa—Nairobi highway).
The town has no active health care system. What can people themselves do?
Jack helped organize a Health Committee and a workshop to discuss such things as
growth monitoring, immunization, bed nets, hand washing and nutrition.
A survey of Miolongo mapped the location of 1700 households. The goal is to visit
every household. (A local project coordinator, Rachel Nduku, keeps the visitation
records.) Another goal is to improve the development of slum children.
When born, child is wired for learning.
Neurons to neighborhoods – what happens when a child goes to a neighborhood?
Caregiver-child interactions are extremely important to healthy child development.
Children are seriously harmed by neglect – we often don‘t think of the consequences.
If community members see a child that is quiet and doesn‘t look sick or hungry, they say
it is alright. They are wrong. For example malnourished children often lack a close
relationship with a care giver.
Drawing from the work of Dr. Jack Shonkoff (see
http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/shonkoff.htm ) Jack paired mothers with a
good relationship with their child with mothers lacking a good relationship and has seen
Compassion Kenya works with 240 church partners and employs a
holistic child development model.
The program employs a vulnerability index as a tool to identify and target highly
Two-fold Strategy: (1) reinforce care and, when not available, (2) replace care.
Care replacement incorporates foster care and ―compassion cottages.‖
―Compassion cottages‖ utilize volunteers from the community. Compassion
International supports four cottages in Kenya at the moment. Each cottage has one
volunteer caregiver and hosts about 8 children. Total number of children in the 4
compassion cottages is 30 (one cottage has extra 2). The cottages are located in the
village and children continue to live there and interact with other villagers.
Economic empowerment Strategy:
(a) look for something relevant to the community and
(b) look for people with a passion for doing something
The Salvation Army is working with women‘s savings groups in Uganda, Tanzania and
Kenya as a means of empowering female caregivers.
Women form groups of 15-25 each and teach reading and writing.
Women decide who will be in each group but if a group is larger than 30, two smaller
groups are formed.
Each group has a 4-person management committee consisting of a chairperson, a
treasurer, a secretary and a controller.
Mobile workshops are available to help groups identify or engage in income generation
projects and other activities.
The women‘s groups are mobilizing money and resources to address the needs of OVC.
Research is underway to determine the extent to which these groups improve the lives of
OVC. Preliminary results are encouraging.
Religiosity or active participation in an active religious community is believed to be a
protective factor. This understanding of religiosity suggests that the attitudes and
behaviors that come from being socialized in a religious community, serve to protect
OVC from undesirable outcomes. Many OVC support programs in sub-Saharan Africa
who incorporate faith values in their prevention programs rely on anecdotal accounts of
the extent of protection afforded by the participation in an active religious community.
This presentation considered some of the results of a five country OVC evaluation
(Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Haiti) which reviewed the correlation between
regular church attendance and risky behaviors such as alcohol consumption, drug use and
premarital sexual activity.
Over 90% of OVC 13-17 and their guardians said their faith in God helps them.
In four of the five countries (Kenya was the exception) regular church attendance and
self-reported importance of religion were associated with less engagement in sexually
risky behavior and in less alcohol usage.
A final assessment report is expected to be out later this year.