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Support for households headed by children and the elderly in Mozambique

© UNICEF Mozambique/2008/Machiana
Many orphaned and vulnerable children in Mozambique are assisted by UNICEF-supported community organizations that provide support to households headed by children and the elderly.

By Emidio Machiana

CHÓKWE DISTRICT, Mozambique, 18 June 2008 – It is mid-morning but Rosina, 16, is still at home, hurrying to finish her domestic chores before going to school. Her home is a small, dark hut where she has been living for about a year with her three brothers, the youngest of whom is only three years old.

Their mother died about two years ago, and they don’t know where their father is.

“I look after my brothers like a mother,” says Rosina. “Our life here is very difficult. Every day I have to go and fetch water in a place a long way from here, go into the bush looking for firewood, cook for my brothers and also go to school.”

Rosina and her brothers are among an estimated 510,000 Mozambique children who have been orphaned by AIDS.

Support for ‘Living Together’
Despite her difficulties, Rosina is receiving help to maintain the house and continue her studies. “We depend on the little money and food we receive for the work we do on our neighbours’ fields, and on the support we receive from Vukoxa,” she says.

Vukoxa is a community-based organization whose ‘Living Together’ programme helps child- and elderly-headed households caring for orphaned and vulnerable Mozambican children. With support from UNICEF and its partners, the programme provides assistance with income, land, small loans for agricultural production, access to water and sanitation, and other basic needs.

“We set up a committee with members of the community here in Chiaquelane because we noted that there are many orphans living on their own, and many elderly people looking after children, who needed our support,” explains the Chairperson of the Vukoxa Committee in the community of Chiaquelane, Anita Ussivana.

Assessing household needs
“Last year we went from house to house to assess the situation in the community. That was how we found Rosina and her brothers,” says Ms. Ussivana.

© UNICEF Mozambique/2008/Machiana
Activists such as Constância Novela (right) are trained to provide psychological and social support for Mozambican children who have been orphaned by AIDS.

Since then, the children have received school materials, school uniforms, clothes and soap. Their births have been registered, so they now have access to health services. In addition, Vukoxa recently supported the construction of a latrine in their community.

Vukoxa has also trained a network of activists to provide psychological, social and legal support to orphaned and vulnerable children, as well as elderly people who are in need.

Psychological and social support
Constância Novela, 42, a Vukoxa activist, provides psychological and social support to Rosina and her brothers.

“I go and visit them at least twice a month, hear what their concerns are, advise them and help them in what they need,” she says.

In all, more than 145 orphaned and vulnerable children are being assisted by Vukoxa in Chiaquelane, in coordination with the local authorities.

The mobilization of communities to support orphaned and vulnerable children is part of the support provided by UNICEF and its partners to help the Mozambican Government implement its Action Plan for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children. The plan aims to reach more than 1.3 million children with basic social services.



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