Catholic Relief Services Awarded $7 Million To Help Orphans, Children Affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa, Haiti

Catholic Relief Services
Wednesday, 14 April 2004

In countries where HIV/AIDS has ravaged family roots and community development, 56,700 orphans and vulnerable children will receive support from a $7 million grant awarded to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The five-year program will provide assistance to 10,220 families, specialized training for 7,819 caregivers and volunteers, and institutional support for 760 faith-based and community-based partner organizations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, and Haiti to respond to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in their communities.

"One of the greatest tragedies we see with HIV/AIDS is the children it leaves in its wake, and the devastating impact, economically and emotionally, on the communities struggling to support them," said CRS President Ken Hackett. "Over the next five years, we hope to expand our existing programs to invest in the resources available to these children, and in the people who will be raising and nurturing them."

Children affected by HIV/AIDS have the same basic needs as other children for food, security, education, nutrition, health, and emotional well-being, but the impact of AIDS has weakened the capacity of their families and communities to provide for them.

CRS will match the USAID grant with $2 million of its own revenue, totaling $9 for efforts to strengthen the means and ability of families to cope with problems brought on by the AIDS crisis; mobilize community-based responses; enhance the capacity of children and youth to meet their own needs; and raise awareness within communities to create an environment that supports children affected by HIV/AIDS. It is expected that within the first few months, the targeted youth will experience improved nutritional and health status and increased enrollment in schools.

The statistics confronting this project are alarming. In Kenya, twelve percent of children have already lost one or both parents to AIDS. By 2010 this number is projected to increase to 2.3 million, or 20 percent of children in the entire country. Nearly ten percent of Tanzania's adult population is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and more than 800,000 children are orphans. In Zambia, where almost 50 percent of the entire population is under 20 years old, 20 percent of its productive age group has HIV/AIDS, and orphans account for ten percent of the population. Rwanda's orphans and vulnerable children number one million. Haiti has the highest HIV prevalence rate in Central America and the Caribbean, with an estimated 260,000 to 335,000 cases, and 200,000 orphans.

Working closely with its local partner organizations, CRS will manage the program from its offices in Nairobi, Kenya. The management team will have an Action Learning Unit for monitoring and evaluation purposes, as well as for identifying and documenting lessons that may emerge from the program's wide geographic coverage.

CRS has been involved in HIV/AIDS programming in Africa, Asia, and Latin America since the late 1980s. Since that time, CRS has supported more than 300 HIV/AIDS projects in 40 countries around the world and currently supports over 160 HIV/AIDS projects in 31 countries, reaching approximately four million people.

For more information, or to contact Catholic Relief Services, see their website at: www.catholicrelief.org

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