01 December 2006
by Fatou Diop
In Kenya, it is estimated that 100,000 children are living with HIV. The vast majority acquired infection through mother-to-child transmission. The HIV epidemic in Kenya has resulted in a 30% increase in mortality among infants and young children. This means that one-third of all infant deaths can now be attributed to AIDS -- rapidly reversing the gains in child survival accrued through child survival programmes.
Orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) are a major national and international concern. A study conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) under the auspices of the National OVC Steering Committee in 2004, and a similar study by UNICEF, have pointed out the magnitude of the detrimental socio-economic effect of HIV/AIDS on
Half of the 31.5 million people in Kenya are children under 18 years of age. It is estimated that 1.5 million Kenyans have died of AIDS, leaving approximately 1.6 million orphans. Between 55%-60% of orphaned children have lost their parents due to HIV/AIDS. The estimates do not include orphans aged 15–18 despite the fact that 20% of orphans fall within this age group. An estimated 8.6 million children form part of the 56% of the Kenyan population that is living below the poverty line.
It is against this backdrop that this year the International Volunteer Day will focus on orphans and vulnerable children. The theme for the celebration will be “Volunteering to strengthen the capacity of communities to protect and care for orphans and vulnerable children” which addresses MDG 6. The theme was selected based on the needs to recognize the challenges facing orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). This will also be an opportunity to discuss the role of volunteerism in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the support of OVC since 2001. A core team composed by representatives from KARA, CEMIRIDE, the Scout movement, KANCO, NGO council and VASCO with the leadership of the UNV Kenya have been consulting in this regard. The formal ceremony will take place on 8 December at Rehema children’s home.
The IVD activities from 4-8 December include:
- Press conference on volunteerism and its impact on development. This will involve representatives from the UNV, volunteers and volunteer-sending organizations;
- A walk within the Nairobi city centre to sensitize the public on volunteerism and the situation of OVC. The participants will then proceed to a selected venue for tree planting exercise;
- The Official celebration will be held at the Rehema Pefa Children’s Home. The programme will include: Production and distribution of campaign materials, volunteer initiative aimed supporting OVC, speeches from UNDP, workshop and donation to Rehama Children’s Home;
- Giving donations to the orphanage from UNV Kenya, other volunteer-sending organizations and private companies.