Sizanani Otreach Programme, Nkandla, Diocese of Eshowe
The OVC Programme of Sizanani in Nkandla reports:
It seems like homework supervision and study improves month on month. The children are beginning to find meaningful enjoyment with homework as they get used to the routine. In addition to homework assistance another educational programme was also introduced. The programme is actually a Department of Education programme called DEAR, meaning Drop Everything And Read. This is at its beginning and it is closely monitored to see how it develops. This programme was initiated by the Department of Education after research had revealed that children, mainly from rural schools, have lost the culture of reading. This programme is therefore aimed at helping learners master reading skills. By introducing this programme, the Department hopes to revive and encourage the culture of reading among children during and after school.
Sizanani Outreach Programme started the Support Group for children on ARVs or on pre-treatment. The purpose is to disclose to the children the reason for taking ARV treatment or for periodic monitoring of their CD4 counts. It had been reported by the Patient Advocates that there were children who simply refused to continue taking their ART treatment on the grounds that they have not been informed of the reasons why they are taking this treatment. The social worker, who runs the group, felt that putting efforts into helping children understand ARVs, should first include checking the coping skills of the adults, as many of them are on treatment themselves. During the month of September, the social worker running the group visited three down referral clinics to discuss the possibility of starting adult support groups in those clinics where they are none or to assist in the maintenance of those that are already in existence. It is therefore the plan for SOP to have well-functioning support groups for adults in three clinics of Thalaneni, Chwezi and Nongamlana, with the hope that Vumanhlamvu will follow suit in the near future. It also made the social worker happy to see so many parents and caregivers of children signing consent forms for the children to be told the reasons why they are taking ARV treatment. The message was well received by the 12 year olds and under. It is hoped that the 13 years and over group will receive it in the same spirit, as many challenges of defaulting have been reported from this group.
SOP Social worker continued to attend the Court and Case Flow Management meeting which is held monthly at the Department of Justice and is chaired by the magistrate as the champion of this meeting. Progress on cases committed against children, including those at Sizanani, are openly discussed and advice is provided where necessary (Child Justice Act is discussed). Other departments and stakeholders attending these meetings are prosecutors, magistrates, social workers, police, crime prevention organisation (Khulisa), Department of Social Development (probation officers) and others.