Approximately 1.6 million children in Zimbabwe have lost one or both parents due to HIV and AIDS-related causes – including 890,000 in 2012 alone.
In the country, kinship care is the traditional approach to caring for these vulnerable children: at least 98% of those orphaned by at least one parent are being cared for by extended family. This is despite the economic hardship and the additional stress suffered by the household as a consequence.
Those without the safety net of extended family face an even more uncertain future: 5000 children live in institutions, there are about 100,000 child-headed households and over 12,000 children are living and working on the streets.
Our latest member, the Farm Orphans Support Trust (FOST) protects orphans in impoverished farming communities; extremely vulnerable communities where many orphans live with grandparents. They support families through the provision of education, food security, vocational training, psychosocial support, home-based care, self-help business groups and child-led protection committees. They ensure that children can grow up with their siblings in a familiar environment. They help to keep children in their family homes.
They also support child-headed households to continue living independently, remaining in their family homestead and working with volunteers in the community to provide the additional support they need.
FOST brings us their expertise in the creation of community-grown solutions for protecting and supporting girls and boys whose parents have died. The addition of FOST increases our reach, through 19 national organisations, to 18 countries and thousands more vulnerable children and families.