Zambia, like much of Africa, has a long road ahead. We have 1,700,000 orphans, adding this figure to children that are vulnerable; it means that there are a couple millions of children who maybe disadvantaged to develop holistically because of poverty. Problems facing OVC are many. The characteristics of OVC that cause holistic development disadvantage include:
- Poverty – 64% of Zambians live on less than a $1 per day. Most of our OVC fall into this category. They drop out because they cannot afford schools fees, stigmatized because of inadequate school supplies, uniforms and low attention span due to hunger
- HIV and AIDS Positive – Stigmatized because of infection. Such children are isolated by teachers and learners alike. Being poor and positive is very hard for children to handle as they cannot participate in public games.
- Trauma – Most orphans have never experienced counselling after their parents died. Our culture believes that not talking about it is the best solution. But these children have so many unanswered questions about their situation and they need help of a trained counselor. Hence they have low motivation for learning due to depression and anxiety which has impact on learning
- Girl Child – Low prioritization of education within family and society. Girl orphans have high responsibilities of house cleaning and other household chores. Then there is the fear of being sexually abused by the guardian or other boys in the family. All these disadvantage educational opportunities of a girl orphan child
- Nucleus Family – Family takes care of nucleus family first before they consider the orphan. Government has done very little to facilitate that such children be adopted. This lower prioritization of orphan education over other children means that the orphan will lack encouragement from the household when it comes to homework support or other school projects
Jubilee Centre and the network churches focus to reach out to such children so as to give them hope for a better future through spiritual transformation and advocacy programs.
Written by Lawrence Temfwe