A light over the children of Gembogl

Health Watch, Normal


THE Gembogl Resource Centre run by the Catholic Archdiocese of Simbu province has been described as a shinning and leading example of a centre catering for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
This is according to a report presented by Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu at the 9th International Conference on AIDS Asia Pacific (ICAAP) in Bali, Indonesia, in August.
The report, titled ‘Community-Based Care for Children Affected by HIV/AIDS’,  outlines what the archdiocese had done for the children affected by HIV/AIDS and what the government planned to do to improve the livelihood of children in such cases.
The archdiocese identifies children affected by HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable children and provides community-based outreach, monitoring and additional care and support where needed through trained child protection volunteers.
The care centre concept provides additional resources for communities and service access point for vulnerable children.
Data collection is a strong element of the programme, maintaining comprehensive case data on each child’s situation, needs and progress.
Vulnerable children are supported through volunteers very cost-effectively: estimated cost is US$7, 000 per annum for 50 children.
The care centres are built by the community using bush materials, with the only programme being for maintenance support, at US$500 per annum per cent.
 The 50 children received quarterly monitoring visits by child protection volunteers over the past 12months in which 88% of school-aged children benefited from school fee assistance provided through the church.
“The key to success has been the sense of ownership by the community and the cultural attitude that children belong to the extended family and the clan-not to individual parents,” Dame Carol said.
“The program is sustainable as it leaves children where they are, only provides the support they need, and engages and builds the capacity of the community to address issues that arise.”
She said that the Gembogl programme will be developed this year into a centre of excellence to promote replication of this approach.
She added that the government was in the process of establishing Child Fun Ltd, under the Lukautim Pikinini Act, to help provide financial support to approved community-based church and non government organisation care models.