$8-m programme to help children affected by HIV/AIDS

$8-m programme to help children affected by HIV/AIDS

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

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MORE than 100 children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS will benefit from psychological, educational and social support under an J$8 million (US$70,000) grant assistance programme.

The grant is being provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with World Learning, and will support a four-month initiative that will be carried out through three non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The organisations are Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, which will receive US$30,000; EVE for Life, US$29,980; and St John's Ambulance, US$10,009.

The programme will provide for training of parents/caregivers, as well as increase the skill set of an existing volunteer corps to provide ongoing mentorship and psychological support to orphans and vulnerable children.

Speaking at the launch and signing ceremony Tuesday at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston, Project Management Specialist at USAID/Jamaica Dr Jennifer Knight said the initiative is a demonstration of strong commitment and partnership in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

She noted that children are forgotten in the HIV/AIDS response, adding that it is for this reason that USAID/Jamaica is partnering with World Learning to provide support for children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

She noted that in 2002, with Jamaica's HIV prevalence at 1.5 per cent, statistics showed that 10,000 to 20,000 children were at risk of losing parents or caregivers to the disease, and by 2008, there were an estimated 20,000 HIV orphans in Jamaica.

"USAID/Jamaica extends appreciation to the World Learning team, who addressed the key needs of these children. This is part of the broader Jamaican-US partnership for a healthy and prosperous Jamaican people. The bonds between our two nations run deeply and we must continue to address the needs of these children," Dr Knight said.

Ruth Jankee, project director at World Learning, said the programme is critical to strengthening existing activities and provide a holistic approach to addressing some of the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.

She said it is anticipated that the programmes, to be implemented by the NGOs, will have long-term impact in the lives of the beneficiaries.

The assistance falls under the USAID-funded Caribbean HIV/AIDS grants solicitation and management programme, implemented by World Learning, which focuses on grant management in the health sector in Jamaica and the Bahamas.

The initiative supports service delivery, capacity development and training to assist the most-at-risk populations. In 2012, World Learning received additional funding to expand its reach to work with orphans and vulnerable children.

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