Support Of Orphans And Vulnerable Children Education Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


Within the inter-disciplinary understanding of development, extensive research has been done in the field of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), with the aim to recommend strategies, guidelines and interventions that would assist such children. Within these, there is a global notion to support these children within their particular reality through empowerment and development principles. It is also evident that the primary outcomes of these recommendations are family- and community based responses and therefore the community will be the primary point of discussion in this chapter. Any reference to the community will include children and in particular, orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). The assumption is that they would benefit directly from interventions initiated through the process of community development.

Within the theological Discipline there is a limited number of authors such as Gecaga (2007), Makoro (2006), Malan (2005), Olson (2009), and Singletary (2007) that relate to recommended strategies, guidelines and interventions to assist orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) within the South African and African context. These sources were consulted, and where applicable, they were included, but they primarily refer to similar inter-disciplinary sources consulted in this chapter. With the recommendations by August (1999), Dreyer (2004), Liebenberg (1996) and Vilanculo (1998) of 'participatory community development' as the preferred approach for the church to engage in community development work, it needs to be emphasized that the adjective 'participatory' primarily refers to the focus in methodology and outcomes within the process of community development (Myers, 2006:173). The same principle applies to 'community-centred' as well as 'participatory learning and action' approaches. The essential principles of community development that will be discussed in this chapter are applicable within the various focuses of methodology.

The aim of this study is not to engage in an analysis of the different contexts and understandings of community development, but do acknowledge that a variety of views and interpretations thereof do exist. Within this chapter, primarily based on an inter-disciplinary literature study, firstly an understanding of the development praxis is needed. Secondly an overview of the essential principles within the praxis to a multi-dimensional approach will be investigated and defined. These principles could, due to their significant roles as means and ends within the process of development, serve as the main criteria to which NGO's, FBO's or the church as change agents could comply, if it is to be judged as effective. Thirdly, a general outline for the support of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) will be discussed.

4.2 Defining Community Development - a Developmental Perspective

According to Simon (1997:184) there has never been consensus or agreement about the meaning, content or context of 'development'. This is due to the unique setting of the community in which the development is understood, or as Wetmore and Theron (1998:29) states, "Development is contextually bound and therefore conceptualised by the members of a given society, sharing a particular dynamic environment and thus social reality (i.e. a community)". For them development "involves a process of multidimensional and interrelated changes from within the society" (1998:29).

Simon (1997:185) defines human development as "the process of enhancing individual and collective quality of life in a manner that satisfies basic needs (as a minimum), is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable and is empowering in the sense that the people concerned have a substantial degree of control (because total control may be unrealistic) over the process through access to the means of accumulating social power". Nel and Binns (1999:262) refer to the change in approaches from a 'top-down' to 'bottom-up' planning. They also refer to the earlier work of Simon (1992 in Nel & Binns, 2000:367) that calls for a blending together of 'top-down' to 'bottom-up' planning to ensure the success of locally based initiatives. He (Simon, 1992 in Nel & Binns, 2000:367) calls for planners and change agents to become more intimately involved with communities. In this view, the way forward is the formulation of multifaceted, integrated policies and plans that are sensitive to different groups and their local needs, and embodies the most positive elements of both 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' planning. In the current modern world, neither of these polar opposite approaches will by itself achieve the desired results (Simon, 1992:41 in Nel & Binns, 2000:376). This argument is confirmed by Nel and Binns which states that the most appropriate way forward is to search for the correct blend of approaches at local level to complement national ones in order to ensure the local relevance of such development strategies and maximizing their chances of success (2000:369).

For Wetmore and Theron (1998:29) it is imperative that Community development be understood within a multi-dimensional setting, with a vast amount of factors influencing the understanding, implementation and interpretation thereof. Such factors include culture, language, religion, urban- or rural setting and the interpretation of people's realities and needs within their own paradigm. Max-Neef (1991:12) expressed his view in that "development needs to be understood as an open option which is justified only to the extend that it is understood, internalized and implemented through a praxis that is in itself a process in constant motion. There is nothing that advocates a final solution, as human beings and their surroundings are a part of a permanent flow which cannot be arrested by rigid and static models" (Max-Neef, 1991:12).

Motteux, Binns, Nel and Rowntree (1999:271) state that community development is very much dependent on empowerment and participation and if the outcomes of development are primarily to empower people, it needs to be driven by the community through a process that enhances their sense of control and ownerships. They further conclude this by referring to the fundamental principle within the Reconstruction and Development program of the South African government:

"The RDP is focussed on our people's most immediate needs, and in turn it relies on their energies to drive the process of meeting these needs. Regardless of race or sex, or whether they are rural or urban, rich or poor, the people of South Africa must together shape their own future. Development is not about the delivery of goods to a passive citizenry. It is about active involvement and growing empowerment" (ANC, 1994:5 in Motteux et. al., 1999:272).

4.3 The underlyning Principles of Community Development

According to Liebenberg (1996:42) the multi-dimensional and interrelated nature of participation, empowerment and sustainability are the nucleus of the development process. Separated, these elements have no value or purpose, but within the context of addressing basic human needs, they become the core of the development process. These will be briefly discussed as the underlying principles of community development. Within this study however, human needs and learning are also included as principles and not merely secondary elements

Principle of participation

Participation is considered by August (1999:24) as key to all principles of development within the understanding of community development, as the initiative and ownership of the people of the community. To him, participation can be stated as an active process where participants take initiative and their actions are stimulated by their own thinking and deliberating of which they have control. It is a way in which people are empowered by the development of their skills and abilities which enables them to make their own decisions in terms of their individual and their communities' needs and realities (August, 1994).

For Swanepoel and de Beer (1998:26) participation includes every individual, from child to adult; having the right to be part of the decision-making mechanisms regarding his/her direct development through the community's development. According to Hoff (1998:11) participatory planning is important for the development of values which must undergird sustainable development. When community members are disengaged in the process of critical thinking and decision making, these members are unlikely to amend their understanding of materialism to one that is focussed on the "concern for quality of life, social justice and common good" (Hoff, 1998:11).

For Vilanculo, (1998:79) participation is also emphasised in the supposition of 'hand up, not a handout' and 'helping people to help themselves' approaches which imply that people are capable of thinking for themselves independently. They can also make meaningful, responsible and informed choices and make critical decisions about their future, find creative solutions and answers to their own problems. This entails the capacity to shape their destiny and ability to construct a vibrant social environment (Vilanculo, 1998:79).

For both Liebenberg (1996:48) and Chambers (1983:124) the importance of external stimuli and change agents as catalyst for the implementation of development cannot be denied. They are enabling the poor, the powerless and remote, to take more control of their own lives, exercise more choice and to demand and use external services and assistance (Chambers, 1992:124). For Skinner et. al. (2006:620) this is included in the "bottom-up" approach, which is generally accepted as the way in which to take guidance from community level when setting parameters for assistance in development. In order to get a sense of where to introduce interventions or initiatives, a clear understanding of the community's perspective is required. Time has to be spent in the community listening to people who are doing work there already, particularly the caretakers and the vulnerable children themselves (Skinner et. al., 2006:620).

But as Liebenberg (1996:49) mentions, "the poor can only make meaningful decisions in this regard after embarking on a social learning process" and the aim should be "people's own research and own praxis". This social learning process would be promoted by the principle of empowerment that brings about capacity-building (Liebenberg, 1996:49).

Principle of empowerment

According to Swanepoel and De Beer (1998:27) people within the communities must take upon themselves the responsibility for their own development - they have the right to do this, but often the ability is futile. For Liebenberg (1996:56), Swanepoel and De Beer (1998:27) people's empowerment is a process encouraged by providing information, knowledge and experience - in essence equipping, as well as establishing confidence in their own abilities and skills. This entails the development of skills and abilities that enable people to collaborate better with development delivery systems. It is also a process that equips people to make decisions and initiate within the environment of their own development needs. It makes multi-dimensional power available to communities that could be used to influence access to and the use of resources in order to achieve certain developmental outcomes objections (August, 1999:26; Liebenberg, 1999:57; Max-Neef, 1991:62).

For August (1999:26) and Liebenberg (1996:57) empowerment must also include the intellectual and psychological dimensions of human development that enable people to communicate their understanding and interpretation of development, as in the absence of this, "social development in terms of influencing resources cannot take place" (Liebenberg, 1996:57). For August, this process of empowerment then includes capacity building and evaluation as characteristics by which the community is empowered to:

influence and anticipate change;

manage their resources to achieve their own objectives;

attract and absorb resources;

make informed decisions;

review their own performance;

make impact analysis;

make appropriate assessments; and

assemble an institutional evaluation.

(August, 1999:26)

There is a mutual relationship between participation and empowerment "as both are the means as well as the ends of each other" (Liebenberg, 1996:59 in August, 1999:27). Said differently, the achievement of both relies on the interrelated relationship of the others' existence.

Principle of sustainability

According to Hoff (1998:6) the essence of sustainability refers to the ongoing availability of benefits or resources. Sustainable development is therefore a strategy that manages all physical and financial assets, human- and natural resources for the purpose of increasing long-term wealth and well-being. The general requirement for sustainability development is that it should not be decreasing over time (August, 1999:27; Hoff, 1998:6; Liebenberg, 1996:60).

For both August (1999:28) and Liebenberg (1996:61), time is an important aspect in sustainability and there must be an emphasis on the fact that the process of sustainability must be viewed as a long-term objective. To them, sustainable development is a slow-moving and never-ending process in which participation and empowerment are important components. It should be based on the achievement of access to and the mobilisation of resources by the community in order to address their own developmental needs (August, 1999:28; Liebenberg, 1996:61).

Hoff (1998:17) concludes sustainable development as a process that has originated from "a new vision of a society based on humanistic values, democratic politics, respect for the natural world, and a harmonization of wealth-generation goals with human welfare and socio-cultural goals".

Principle of human needs

Human needs are the essentials that a human being must have in order to survive (Swanepoel and De Beer, 1998:24). These human needs do not only relate to material needs, but also include abstract needs like choice, the right to vote and the right to own an opinion. Swanepoel and De Beer (1998:24) refer to humans having basic concrete needs such as food, water, clothing and shelter, as well as basic abstract needs such as self-reliance, happiness and human dignity. According to them, people are striving to fulfil their concrete needs, but their abstract human needs also need satisfaction. Concrete and abstract needs cannot be separated and if done, the abstract needs will remain unfulfilled (1998:24).

For Swanepoel and De Beer (1998:25), the most important abstract need is human dignity which has two implications for development:

under no circumstances may the concrete needs be fulfilled to the detriment of people's dignity. People may not be ignored or bypassed, or forced into or made dependent by any development projects addressing their concrete needs;

any effort to address the concrete needs of people must at the same time strive to fulfil the human need of dignity. Dignity is enhanced by recognition - by recognising people as capable of making their own decisions and assuming responsibility for decisions they have made. It is also enhanced by becoming self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-organising.

Another view of needs is found in Max-Neef (1991:16) who argues that the best process of development will be one which allows for the greatest improvement in people's quality of life. The quality of life in turn depends on the abilities of people to adequately satisfy their basic human needs (August, 1999:15; Liebenberg, 1996:42). Max-Neef identifies the need for an indicator of the qualitative growth of people and measures the results in terms of nine human scale development (HSD) indicators to determine whether the needs of people have been met, namely subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, recreation, creativity, identity, and freedom. These needs must be understood as a system in which "all human needs are interrelated and interactive. With the sole exception of the need of subsistence, that is to remain alive, no hierarchies exist within the system" (Max-Neef, 1991:16).

Max-Neef's Human Scale development theory (1996:18) is based on the following hypothesises:

Firstly, "Fundamental human needs are finite, few and classifiable."

Second, "Fundamental human needs are the same in all cultures and in all historical periods. What changes, both over time and through cultures, is the way or the means by which the needs are satisfied."

He further adds that 'Satisfiers' of these needs, function within three dimensions in addressing them, namely

the self (the individual person)

the social group (a community central to the needs)

the environment (living area)

He concludes "that each need can be satisfied at different levels and different intensities and the "quality and intensity, not only of the levels but also of contexts, will depend on time, place and circumstances" (1990:18).

Principle of learning

All the people involved in development must learn, and for Swanepoel and De Beer (1998:25) in this situation there is no teacher other than the circumstances. According to this, all the people are students of the situation and are taught by its realities. Therefore, the agenda must be blank and the participants must fill it in. There is no place for preconceived plans or programmes (Swanepoel and De Beer, 1998:25). This does however need to be understood and promoted with the understanding of the role of a catalyst, and the essential value of a balance between a 'bottom-up' and 'top-down' approach as recommended by Simon (1992 in Nel & Binns, 2000:367). Further to this, due to the understanding of the interrelated nature of community development, the principle of learning should probably be read in light of the understanding of the principle of empowerment.

Within this, 'Community Learning' can be considered as an integral part of a process through which indigenous knowledge and experience are discovered with the help of a catalyst - local or from the outside (Nel & Binns, 2000:367). By assisting people to recognise their own ability to influence their destiny, they understand "that they are able to give, to contribute towards a better life style, to create their own dynamic organisational and management structures and to influence the wider structural context of society around them" (Nel & Binns, 2000:367). Through this process, community learning becomes a way of linking previous experiences through the actions of self-search and self-discovery for both individuals and communities (Nel & Binns, 2000:367).

4.4 The need for a catalyst

"Community-based development strategies are gaining in credibility and acceptance in development circles internationally and notably in post-apartheid South Africa. In parallel, the concept of social capital and the role of supportive non-governmental organisations are receiving attention as key catalytic elements in encouraging and assisting community-based initiatives" (Nel & Binns, 2001:3).

From both theoretical and applied perspectives there are wide-spread support for the notion of a 'bottom-up' approach (Simon, 1992 in Nel & Binns, 2000:367). However, for Nel and Binns in reality, it would be unrealistic to anticipate that a multitude of community-based development activities can emerge spontaneously and sustain themselves indefinitely. According to Nel and Binns (2001:3) factors such as shortages of local capacity and resources, poor understanding of the broader environment and the limited life-span of projects, contribute to community-based initiatives being "unlikely to achieve more than small sporadic victories for the disadvantaged majority", except for the odd isolated success stories. In most cases, as also noted by Burkey (1993:73), there is a defined role and place for limited external guidance and support, "Self-reliant participatory development processes normally require an external catalyst to facilitate the start of the process and to support the growth of the process in its early phases" (Burkey, 1993:73). This calls for a delicate balance between ensuring local control and involving appropriate, limited, external support and guidance. The two key factors Nel and Binns (2001:3) identified to hinder the success of such a scenario, will be the "role of local social capital and the appropriateness of external support" which in many cases are provided by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's) and Faith-Based Organisations (FBO's) through their active role in community development initiatives. They further conclude that in the absence of this external support, the widespread emergence of self-initiated, community-based developments will be limited, and "where they do emerge, their long-term prognosis could be doubtful" (2001:3).

They also refer to community initiatives that are frequently inhibited by a general list of constraints, such as a lack of finance, equipment, technical expertise, organisational skills and inadequate knowledge. In such scenarios, there seems to be a very clear motivation to try and link external agencies with local projects in order to help address these shortfalls. For Nel and Binns (2001:3), if projects are to become sustainable, such links must be acknowledged and encouraged on the principles that they avoid dependency, ensure support for local leadership and that appropriate skills training are provided.

Within this context, strategies that blend local initiatives with external support, whether it is governmental, commercial or non-governmental, need to be sought. Simon (1992 in Nel & Binns, 2000:367) has argued that successful project implementation requires the blending of the successes and compensation for the weaknesses of both 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' planning. He advocates greater empathy and interaction between planners and communities and the integration of theory and practice. The way forward, Simon proposes, is the "formulation of multifaceted, integrated policies sensitive to different group and local needs and embodying the most positive elements of both 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' planning. In the contemporary world, neither of these polar opposite approaches will achieve the desired results by itself" (Simon, 1992 in Nel & Binns, 2000:367).

According to Motteux et. al., (1999:262), Nel and Binns (2000:376) it seems that NGO's have the potential, by virtue of their intermediary position, to facilitate the development process through linking both "top" and "bottom". However, it is important to appreciate that if NGO's or any change agent is to have a meaningful impact, they should ideally operate in a sensitive and participatory manner (Chambers, 1993). While NGO's have undoubtedly played a critical role in encouraging and supporting local development initiatives, the picture is by no means entirely positive.

"External agencies have a vital role to play in this regard, providing that their intervention is timely, sensitive to local needs and aspirations, and does not lead to dependency" (Nel & Binns, 2000:376).

4.5 general OUTLINES for the support of orPhans and vulnerable children

With the overwhelming reality of the plight of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in South Africa, it is evident that an urgent response is needed to assist these children. This response however, ought to be considered from a thoroughly researched strategy, including all possible outcomes and guidelines in order to ensure that the chosen response would make a definite positive impact on the quality of the livelihoods and futures of these children. Due to the enormity of the anticipated high levels of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), there is the possibility that according to Johnson and Dorrington, (2001:14) the next generation of South African young adults and leaders (after 2015) will include the estimated 33% of children that have developed and grown up without parental guidance and in very difficult circumstances. Even with Bray's (2003:3) warning not to project any social impact thereof; one cannot ignore the possibility that it could have some impact on the social stability of South Africa.

The outlines provided are based on inter-disciplinary authors and sources and are based on numerous accounts of research and evaluation projects relating to initiatives that assist orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). These outline are primarily based on the work of Meintjes, Moses, Berry & Mampane, (2007), Department of Social Development (2005), Department of Social Development (2008), Dorrington and Johnson (2001), Family Health International (2001), Giese and Meintjes (2004:4), The Firelight Foundation (Olson et. al., 2005) and US Agency for International Development (Smart, 2003).

Institutional or residential care as an option

UNICEF states "While building more orphanages, children's villages or other group residential facilities would seem a possible response to caring for the growing number of orphans, this strategy is not a viable solution" (2004a:19). Save the Children Fund produced a publication called A Last Resort (Dunn, Jareg & Webb, n.d), which argued that many characteristics of residential and institutional care are an abuse of children's rights and pose a serious threat to their normal developmental processes. According to their study as well as others (Giese & Meintjes, 2004:4), "the care provided in institutional settings often fails to meet the developmental- and long-term needs of children" (UNICEF, 2004a:19) as these children need more than just good physical care. While such institutions may be appealing because they can provide food, clothing, and education, they generally fail to meet young people's emotional- and psychological needs as "these children need the affection, attention, security and social connections that families and communities can provide" (UNICEF, 2004a:19). This failure, and its long-term implications, is supported by the conclusion of a study done in Zimbabwe, "that countries - and children - are better served by programs that keep children with the community, surrounded by leaders and peers they know and love" (UNICEF, 2004a:19).

Institutional care and orphanages are also very expensive to maintain compared "to providing direct assistance to existing family and community structures" (UNICEF, 2004b:37). Research done by the World Bank in the United Republic of Tanzania, found that "institutional care was about six times more expensive than foster care and cost comparisons conducted in Uganda showed the ratio of operating costs for an orphanage to be 14 times higher than those for community care" (UNICEF, 2004b:37). Apart from the fact that such institutions are prohibitively expensive to run, Giese and Meintjes (2004:4) emphasize the fact that such institutions can only cater for a limited number of children, but for the same cost, far more children can be sustained within community- and family-based care.

Other concerns raised by Giese and Meintjes (2004:4) include issues of cultural- and personal identity as institutions established specifically for orphans, or 'AIDS orphans' risk promoting the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. This particularly happens when set up as 'villages' that operate unconnectedly from neighbouring communities. Furthermore, the fact that children who are raised in these institutions are very often left with no 'home' upon reaching the age of 18 as they are disconnected from family-, cultural- and traditional ties. Countries with long-term experience of "institutional care for children have seen the problems that emerge as children grow into young adults and have difficulty reintegrating into society (UNICEF, 2004b:37).

Donors and other organisations are however drawn to residential care because it offers tangible, visible responses to the needs of disadvantaged or orphaned children. Tolfree (2005:5) refers to this as 'well-meant but misguided interventions' that seek to provide 'a simple answer to a complex issue'. According to Tolfree (2005:5), there is a need for multiple approaches between the various parties involved, that includes NGO's, FBO's, CBO's, governments and any other change agents to re-unify children with their care-givers and to promote a more appropriate range of family-based alternatives.

Institutions can serve as a temporary, last-resort response, but they are not a long-term solution (Olson, 2005:3). In circumstances where children are made vulnerable by various other factors, such as being victims of sexual or physical violence and abuse, abandonment due to disabilities or sickness due to HIV and AIDS, these children are often in need of intermediary residential care. But once intervention and treatment to recovery have been provided, all efforts should be made to keep these placements short term. When used in this way, institutions can be a place of safety where children could be cared for until a better alternative within a family home in the community is found (Olson et. al., 2005:8).

The scale of orphans and children made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS and other causes, is so immense that "an institutional response - besides not being in the best interests of the child" (UNICEF, 2004b:37) - would be difficult to consider as the sole answer to this very complex situation. Orphanages for more than 5.7 million orphans in South Africa by 2014 simply cannot be built and sustained effectively (UNICEF, 2004b:37).

Suggested strategies, principles and interventions for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)

South Africa's capacity to deal with the increased number of orphaned and vulnerable children is currently limited due to the already exhausted and under-staffed Social- and Welfare Services. Institutional cares, in the form of orphanages, homes of safety, etc., is being provided, but in order to contain costs, and due to other international influences, policy makers and local government are shifting their focus towards models of community-based care (Department of Social Development, 2005:22; Department of Social Development, 2008:21).

It needs to be stated that interventions in the lives of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), are unique to every child, household and community; there is no once-size-fits-all approach. Various research and documentation of interventions in the lives of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) have been done and such interventions have been investigated and scrutinized by various advocacies and organisations (Department of Social Development, 2005; Dlamini, 2004; Engle, 2008; Olsen et. al., 2005; Richter, Manegold & Pather, 2004; Strebel, 2004; Tolfree, 2005 and UNICEF, 2007). Within the literature research used in this study, the majority of the recommendations were done mainly within the HIV and AIDS pandemic setting, but it should be emphasized that these sources also agree that the vulnerability of children is not primarily caused by HIV and AIDS related deaths or the pandemic itself, but includes other factors within the understanding of poverty and the context of the community. The recommended strategies and guidelines that will be provided within this study will be based on interventions that would benefit all children considered vulnerable. It also needs to be confirmed that due to the limitation of this study, these strategies will be a brief description to serve as guidelines for evaluation later in this study, and would further only mention, but not explore the recommendations provided for governmental structures with regard to legislation and policies.

With a strong record of activism and involvement; research and promoting a practice of strong monitoring and evaluation, as well as being pioneers in the field of study, UNICEF, UNAIDS and World Bank (Richter et. al., 2004; UNICEF, 2004b and UNICEF, 2007) identified five key strategies as "a framework for the protection, care and support of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)" (Richter et. al., 2004; UNICEF, 2004b and UNICEF, 2007). These strategies were endorsed by the UNAIDS Committee of Co-sponsoring Organizations in November 2001. These five key strategies have also been included in a number of publications that used them as criteria to evaluate projects or programmes; as well as in the development and motivation of various policies (Department of Social Development, 2005; Dlamini, 2004; Engle, 2008; Mathambo & Richter, 2007; Olsen, et. al, 2005; Richter et. al., 2004; Smart, 2003; Strebel, 2004; Tolfree, 2005; UNICEF, 2004b; UNICEF, 2007; UNICEF, 2008).

Strengthening family capacity

The nuclear- and extended families have been recommended to be the best hope for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). According to Engle (2008:45); Olsen, et al. (2005:4); Richter et. al. (2004:32) and UNICEF (2004b:16), children that grow up in families generally receive more consistent care; they develop better social and emotional skills and stronger self-image. But this notion is built on an assumption that families have unlimited resources to maintain their support and care for these children (Skinner et. al., 2006:622). Due to the impact of the scale of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in South Africa and the undertaking of families to care for these children, family structures are changing, households are fragmenting, they become poorer and face even bigger hardship. The children living in these situations are at increased risk of losing opportunities for education, health care, development, nutrition, and shelter - in essence the right to a decent and fulfilling human existence (FHI, 2001:1).

The following areas of interventions have been identified that could be vital to the capacity of families to cope with this burden.

Improve household economic capacity (Engle, 2008:41; UNAID, 2008; UNICEF; 2004b:9).

"Provide psychosocial support to affected children and their caregivers" (Engle, 2008:45; Richter et. al., 2004:32; UNICEF, 2004b:16).

Strengthen and support child-care capacities of "caregivers by improving the reach of promoted efforts to support caregivers through schools, health centres, preschools and social welfare services" (UNICEF, 2004b:17).

Support succession planning. This would include making a will, "identifying an appropriate caretaker and seeing to the preparation and passing on of legal documents" (Engle, 2008:45; UNICEF, 2004b:17).

Prolong the lives of parents or elderly caretakers. "Making medicine, education, food and nutrition available through home-based care and support programmes can benefit both parents and children" (UNICEF, 2004b:18).

Strengthen young people's life skills in areas "such as household management, caring for younger siblings, budgeting, accessing services and social grants, social" (UNICEF, 2004b:19) and other interpersonal skills to make informed decisions. .

Support family-based care, foster care, child-headed- and elderly-headed households, local adoptive placements, home visits or community- and faith-based organisations that are linked with the community and families (UNICEF, 2004b:19).

Mobilising and supporting community-based responses to provide both immediate and long-term assistance to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)

According to UNICEF (2004b:19), "care of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) comes from nuclear families surviving with community assistance, extended families able to cater for increased numbers with community assistance, and, in extreme cases, communities caring for children in child-headed households". In essence it can be concluded that by strengthening "the capacity of communities to provide support, protection and care" a foundation is laid for "a response that will match the scale and long-term impact" of the projected orphan rate UNICEF (2004b:19).

UNICEF (2004b:19) calls for a systematic approach to community mobilisation. Four key areas of intervention to nurture and strengthen community initiatives have been identified. Within these, FBO's and NGO's, along with other community structures can play a key role in mobilising and supporting such community efforts.

"Engage local leaders in responding to the needs of vulnerable community members" (UNICEF, 2004b:19) through creating awareness and sensitivity to their needs.

Organise cooperative support activities using "locally available resources to help children and households" (UNICEF, 2004b:20) such as community-based childcare centres, communal gardens and recreational programs.

Promote and maintain community care for such children by providing support to increase other "family's willingness to bring children into their extended household" (UNICEF, 2004b:19) and monitoring such households to ensure caregivers cope with increased demands.

Provide community monitoring of the children as well as additional support when necessary (Mathambo & Richter, 2007; UNICEF, 2004b:19).

Ensuring access for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) to essential services

The lack of basic services is a huge contributing factor to children's overall vulnerability and welfare and the necessity to improve access to it, is apparent. According to Article 65 of the Declaration of Commitment of the UN Special Session on HIV and AIDS, UNICEF calls for an increase in access to essential services and particularly for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) which entails Governments having an obligation to provide basic services to all children and communities (2004b:20). Greater impact and sustainability warrants "interventions that build the capacity, quality, collaboration and reach of effective service delivery programmes" (UNICEF, 2004b:20) that include basic factors that will be discussed briefly.

Increase school enrolment and attendance (Richter et. al., 2004:28; UNICEF, 2004b:21).

Ensure birth registration for all children (UNICEF, 2004b:22).

Provide basic health and nutritional services (Richter et. al., 2004:25; UNICEF, 2004b:22).

Improve access to safe water and sanitation (UNICEF, 2004b:23).

Ensure that judicial systems protect vulnerable children (Richter et. al., 2004:41; UNICEF, 2004b:24).

"Ensure placement services for children without family care" (UNICEF, 2004b:23).

Strengthen local planning and action through building the capacity of "officials and local authorities to identify vulnerable children and households" (UNICEF, 2004b:23).

Ensuring that governments protect the most vulnerable children

Even though "families have the primary responsibility for the care and protection of children, national governments have the ultimate responsibility to protect children and ensure their well-being" (UNICEF, 2004b:25). Government has the obligation to find ways to bring together the various "ministries of education, finance, health, social welfare and others to respond" (UNICEF, 2004b:25) in a synchronized and effective way to meet the needs of these children (Richter et. al., 2004:53; UNICEF, 2004b:25). These could include an array of policies, but in essence be concluded within the following guidelines.

Adaptation of national policies, strategies and action plans of which the wellbeing of children and youth are an integral part (UNICEF, 2004b:24).

Enhance government capacity through "immediate and long-term capacity-building and support" (UNICEF, 2004b:25) from international and local partners as scarce resources are stretched beyond its limits and "direct service delivery and support to families become increasingly more difficult" (UNICEF, 2004b:25).

Ensuring that resources reach communities through more coherent systems and mechanisms (UNICEF, 2004b:25).

"Establish mechanisms to ensure information exchange and collaboration of efforts" that gives greater priority to basic education, nutrition, child welfare and other essential services (Richter et. al., 2004:53; UNICEF, 2004b:25)

Even though this is the responsibility of Government, the role of NGO's FBO's, CBO's and other change agents is recognized in advocacy and raising awareness to keep governments accountable to their own policies and guidelines. Within the South African context, there is a definite role for NGO's, FBO's and CBO's to play in promoting government's involvement on local level.

In light of understanding Empowerment as an element of Community Development, the promotion and facilitation through activists (such as the church) could empower communities with basic knowledge and provide access to various relief strategies to assist the communities. Such would include knowledge and access with regard to child-grants.

Raising awareness at all levels through advocacy and social mobilisation to create a supportive environment for all children affected

The vulnerability of children is due to an array of contributing factors. These factors cannot be limited to HIV and AIDS alone, but are due to the multi-dimensional related needs and issues that are circumstantial and community- based; as well as being unique to every child's reality. Orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) as well as their families are often the victims of discrimination, stigmatization and isolation which lead to the violation of their basic human rights (UNICEF, 2004b:20). In order to reduce stigma and discrimination, there is a need for access to information, challenging myths and people's perceptions on the contributing factors to vulnerable children and their families. The following could be ways that raise awareness and encourage compassion and action (UNICEF, 2004b:20).

Mass campaigning on parenting practices and young children's special need for nurture and care (Richter et. al., 2004:43; UNICEF, 2004b:20).

Encourage family-based care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) by raising awareness through community education and outreach campaigns (Richter et. al., 2004:43; UNICEF, 2004b:20).

Engage in community mobilisation to promote change in community's attitudes and beliefs. Efforts to create space for conversation, can dispel myths, raise awareness and encourage compassion and action (Richter et. al., 2004:43; UNICEF, 2004b:20).

4.5.3 Other underlying principles to the response of the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

Children's rights

The South African Government is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Children and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Section 28 of the South African Constitution provides for the rights of children in South Africa.

The Children's Rights are underpinned by four major principles:

"The right of the child to survival, development and protection from abuse and neglect."

"The right to have a voice and be listened to."

"That the best interests of the child should be of primary consideration."

"The right to freedom from discrimination."

(Department of Social Development, 2005:11).

It has been concluded that the vulnerability of children is influenced by various factors, including the impact of HIV and AIDS and other physical needs, such as: poverty, food security, education and health. In addition to these are non-physical problems that relate to welfare, protection and emotional-, social- and spiritual well being. Within these, some of the basic rights of children are being violated, such as:

Food and food security


Shelter and protection of property and inheritance

Parental love, care and nurture or appropriate alternative care


Play and recreation


Protection from abuse

Protection from child labour

Participation by children in the decisions that affect their lives.

(Department of Social Development, 2005:11)

When considering any interventions or initiatives to assist orphaned and vulnerable children, the above rights of children must be first and foremost considered and adhered to. It was apparent in the previous discussion on guidelines and principles for interventions, how the implementation of rights of children was promoted and adhered to.

Child participation

According to Stephenson (2004:5), child participation can be defined as "children influencing issues affecting their lives, by speaking out or taking action in partnership with adults". The notion behind child participation is primarily driven by two factors, firstly the growing emphasis on child rights and secondly the emphasis on implementing good community development principles which enable people to address their own problems by participating in the process (Stephenson, 2004:5).

According to Article 12 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Children, girls and boys have the right to be involved through consultation in all decisions affecting them. This requires that firstly, children of any age should be allowed to express their views in ways which are appropriate to their age and stage of development and secondly, that they should receive information in an appropriate manner. In essence, the 'best interest' as per the Rights of Children, decision should be learned and implemented from what children themselves have to say. This principle applies to individual children and children as a group (Stephenson, 2004:5; Tolfree, 2005:9). All people, however young, are entitled to be participants in their own lives, to influence what happens to them, to be involved in creating their own environments, to exercise choices and to have their views respected and valued.

The concept of child participation includes the following assumptions:

All children are capable of expressing a view, whether it be the crying baby that expresses needs or wants, drawings of the 18 month old or the developing language of a 4 year old (Landown, 2005:2).

They have a right to express their views freely which entails that the necessary space is created to express themselves in ways appropriate to them. This could include music, movement, drawing, painting, as well as conventional dialogue.

The right to be heard in all matters affecting them which encompasses all actions and decisions affecting their lives, including family, school, health, community and even political level.

The right to have their views taken seriously and to be considered when decisions are made.

The right to respect for views in accordance with their age and maturity.

(Lansdown, 2005:1 - 5)

Tolfree (2005:20) and Lansdown, (2005:1) call on all parties involved in providing good-quality care for children to move beyond seeing children as victims, silent dependents or passive (and unwilling) recipients of services, as their capacity for participation is underestimated, their action in their own lives is denied and the value of involving them is unrecognised. Lansdown (2005:i) further emphasises that participation enhances children's self-esteem and confidence, promotes their overall capacities, produces better outcomes, strengthens understanding of and commitment to democratic processes and protects children more effectively. Participation provides the opportunity for developing a sense of autonomy, independence, heightened social competence and resilience. The benefits are therefore significant, and adults' responsibility for children needs to acquire a great humility in recognising that they have a great deal to learn from children. Their participation can enable development projects to meet the needs of all in the community and children often want to participate but are not allowed to by adults. This may be due to cultural and social perceptions of children as lacking skills and being unable to express their thoughts (Tolfree, 2005:20; Lansdown, 2005:1).

For Stephenson (2004:5) child participation needs to be considered as part of good development practice as the "involvement of children in development projects and community life can reveal new perspectives on problems, create more unity and trust within the community, and develop skills of the next generation of community leaders and members". Lansdown (2005:40) promotes the practice of child participation and writes "the only way to learn is to create the spaces in which young children can be heard and begin to inform and influence the world around them" and concludes that the challenge lies within the fact that "children are instinctive communicators. Unfortunately, not all adults are instinctive listeners". She concludes and calls for the "understanding of participation that needs to be re-constructed to incorporate and respect the forms of expression and communication used by young children" (Lansdown, 2005:40).

Due to the limitation of this study, the complete practice, implications and evaluation of child participation will not be discussed, but are included for the purpose of evaluating any strategies for interventions in the lives of children.

4.6 conclusion

With a basic understanding of what community development and its underlying principles entails, as well as the understanding of the role of a catalyst within the community and what the process development entails, the role of the church could be anticipated. The notion of the church's ability to partake in the process is however built on the assumption that the church has the knowledge and skill to be effective.

The overwhelming sense from the realities of children in South Africa is prolonged by the complexity of the various recommendations as the enormity of the orphan crisis is met by the mammoth task as set out within these guidelines and principles. Herein lies a hint of new strategies and initiatives that are people-centred and multi-dimensional. With the international standards and the underlying principles briefly explained here, the church can envision itself playing a vital role in effectively creating sustainable livelihoods for orphaned and vulnerable children.