MSH Supports Communities in Helping South African Orphans
Through the well-established Integrated Primary Health Care (IPHC) Project, MSH introduced an innovative performance-based grants program in March 2006 to support the expansion of community-based services for at least 15,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). By providing grants to community-based organizations that were already helping children but often struggled for adequate resources, MSH envisioned a rapid scale-up of services for some of South Africa’s most vulnerable victims of the AIDS epidemic.
In the first year of the OVC grants program, about 6,000 children were served; before the end of 2008, over 19,000 had received care, ranging from help with their homework and field trips to life-saving antiretroviral therapy from the 23 MSH-supported community-based organizations across five provinces in South Africa. Fifty-two percent of these OVC served are female—a critically important fact given the disproportionate HIV disease burden borne by girls and women across the world and in South Africa.
An estimated 1.4 million orphans reside in South Africa, and without care and support, they face enormous obstacles. These include dire poverty, stigma, physical and sexual abuse, limited educational options—and thus limited economic options as they grow up—and illness from HIV, whether contracted at birth, from childhood sexual abuse, or from sex as adults.
Community-based organizations like the 23 MSH supports are enmeshed in the lives of these young people and are usually the most knowledgeable about what both these children and their overburdened caregivers need. Strong and effective community organizations can help individual children, families, the community, and the country as a whole to mitigate the effects of the AIDS epidemic.
|“Without the drop-in center, I wouldn’t be here. I would have long ago left school, or maybe I could have long ago died of hunger and poverty and diseases.” — A teenaged orphan|
Unfortunately, many grassroots organizations lack both the resources to consistently deliver or expand their programs and the capacity to seek resources or use them effectively. The IPHC Project team not only provides financial incentives to community organizations through payments based on agreed-upon targets but also coaches these organizations and mentors their staff in project management, reporting, and ways they can improve the quality of the services they deliver.