Life can be hard for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in the suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa. In many households in the suburb of Etwatwa, the head of the household is a young person under 18. Most of the children living in these households face malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, negligence and abuse. It is these children that PWRDF partner the John Wesley Community Centre (JWCC) reaches out to.
JWCC works with the community to support at-risk children in their Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Program. The program focuses on community education and nutrition, but also on fun. Children from the local schools come to the JWCC after school for a meal, education, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention training, social support, computers, and play therapy.
Jeannethe Lara, PWRDF’s Africa Development Program Coordinator, visited JWCC recently. “The centre becomes more alive at around 3pm when staff put up the table for the lunch for kids coming from school,” she said. “About 120 children receive a meal each day. Food is an important program for these children who have lost their parents due to AIDS and are under the care of relatives.” After the meal, the children go to an after school activity. Their choices include gymnastics, computers, reading in the library, or Marimba class. Marimba is the most popular choice for the older children, and on Fridays all of them participate in that activity.
Participating at the JWCC gives these children a chance not just to learn and have a meal, but to recapture their childhood.