According to UNICEF, the rate of prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the adult population is 6% but is in fact probably higher. There are estimated to be over 36,000 orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS which is over 15% of all orphans.
SOS Children in Liberia has developed Family Strengthen Programmes to help prevent abandonment. The SOS Social Centre and the SOS Medical Centre in Monrovia work to support over 11,500 vulnerable children and their families in the Greater Monrovia area.
SOS Children works with Health and Social Services to target families in the greatest need, especially children and families infected or affected with HIV/AIDS. 48 families are currently benefiting from this programme, which gives these families health services, food, school tuition and help with developing income generating activities to empower these families and make them self-supporting.
SOS Children works with Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) to supply HIV patients with anti-retroviral drugs. This part of the programme requires special trained staff - nurses and social workers - to help patients with counselling and specific and health care. The objective is to improve the quality of their lives, and help them be active members of their communities. The programme will be extended to meet the greatest need in rural areas.
SOS SOCIAL CENTRE MONROVIA
Nothing can be more painful than being rejected by your own husband. Mama went though it and knows what it is. She is just one person of the thousands who have been helped by SOS Children’s Family Strengthening Programme. Things are getting better and she wanted to share her experience.
Mama's mother and father lived with their three children in a modern house before the Liberian civil war. The father died leaving them under the sole care of their mother. Unfortunately, during the Liberian civil war, the family house was completely destroyed by a rocket explosion and Mama left to live with the man she was to marry. Her mother, brother and sister moved into a little hut owned by their uncle.
Once married, Mama used to sell fish to help her husband meet their family’s daily needs. The family had two children, Sarah and William and lived in the West Point Community, a suburb of Monrovia, Liberia's capital. Mama's health began to deteriorate. "I sought medical attention several times, but my condition became even worse", she said. She was taken to the Sisters of Charity, a hospice that caters for terminally ill patients. She was diagnosed HIV positive and was showing symptoms of AIDS. She remained at the Sisters of Charity until she regained strength. Once discharged, she immediately went back home to her husband and children.
As soon as she returned home her husband told her to leave the house because of the stigma associated with the Sisters of Charity Hospice. "I had no other choice than to politely leave, taking along my two children to my aged mother's hut, where my younger brother and sister lived", she explains.
Mama could no longer continue her fish business to support her family because of her illness. So the family had to live on handouts from friends and sympathisers to sustain themselves. Mama joined the Mother Pattern College of Health Sciences Support Group for People Living with HIV/AIDS to help her regain her self-confidence.
Social workers from the SOS Social Centre Monrovia met Mama during one of their visits to the Mother Pattern's Support Group. Mama told them her story. A quick check with the local community showed the urgency of her need for support. The family is now being provided with medication, food, help with school fees and regular counselling. Mama's children, Sarah and William, are at school. Mama's family is also one of the families on the programme that are about to be empowered through income generating activity support. She now sells daily provisions near her house. As Mama says, this will "keep me from using too much energy that may negatively affect my health". The family is now stronger and happy. "Thank God for SOS Children's Villages", Mama always says.
If you interested in helping the situation in Liberia you might like to consider how to sponsor a child in Liberia.