Efforts to support orphans and vulnerable children have been a cornerstone of Hope for Children Organization Ethiopia’s efforts since the organization was founded in 2000. The HIV and AIDs pandemic has had multiple negative impacts on children and HFCOE has responded to support children affected by HIV and AIDS with a holistic approach to addressing a wide range of needs including:
• Psychosocial support to help children process grief and trauma – often the result of the death of one or more parents, and stigmatization
• Educational support to enable children to be successful in school including school fees, uniforms and school supplies
• Early childhood care and development including a kindergarten that catered to the needs of vulnerable children
• Health and nutrition – including adherence support for HIV positive children and their families
• Provision of basic material needs including food and clothing
In order to support children without a home (often their parents are unable to care for them and/or have passed away), HFCOE operates multiple group homes that are integrated as part of the community. Within each home, a caregiver provides love and affection much like a mother, to a small group of between 4-9 boys and girls that grow up together as a family. In 2016, HFCOE operated 5 groups homes that served 35 children. The children grow up to becomes successful members of the community, attending college and becoming professionals such as doctors and lawyers.
HFCOE also operates a child sponsorship program that includes vulnerable children living in the broader community, in addition to children living in HFCOE group homes. In 2016, the sponsorship program covered 136 children to provide educational and other material support as well as counseling and psychosocial support to create a sense of belonging and to foster optimal development. HFCOE works with terminally ill parents on succession planning to create a will a memory box to leave family keepsakes and messages for the future for their children.
A youth center exists to provide recreational activities as well as a range of training including English and computer classes and scouting activities for vulnerable children both living in the group homes and from the broader community. Books and reference materials are provided as well as quiet space to facilitate academic success.