South Africa has one of the highest HIV rates in the world with more than 5.7 million estimated cases of HIV/AIDS. As a consequence, the impact of HIV/AIDS has become a serious threat and a major crisis in our society.
Of particular concern is the impact that the pandemic has had on our children. Not only does the occurrence of HIV/AIDS mean that children lose parents or guardians, but also that many children face losing their childhood due to the resultant emergence of child-headed households. HIV/AIDS is one of many factors that contribute to South Africa’s Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) statistics and is a cause of great concern.
While social welfare organisations play a key role in addressing the plight of OVCs, the emergence of community-based organisations (CBOs) has made a significant impact in caring for our vulnerable children. As a nation, we have a responsibility to ensure that children who find themselves in these traumatic circumstances are given hope, support, education, good health, and a better life so that they have the chance to become productive citizens of the country.
For many years, JCW had worked directly with OVCs. But we wanted to do more. In 2005, we established the OVC Forum with the goal of broadening our impact on children most in need. The purpose of the OVC Forum is to build the capacity of CBOs and to enable them to reach effectively run operations with good governance, thus serving the children within their own area of operation successfully. The OVC Forum fosters social cohesion, inter-sectoral collaboration, networking, and sharing of best practice models. It also serves as a powerful vehicle to positively influence and support CBOs that are doing similar work and helps them to deepen caregiver understanding of OVCs.
JCW’s OVC Forum model comprises a monthly mentoring and training schedule specifically designed to empower and inform on topics such as business, governance, fundraising, play, and life skills. For example, it deals with children who have behavioural issues. OVC Forum members are able to share information and problem solve with JCW in an advisory and supportive role.