ORPHAN AFFAIRS UNIT (O.A.U)



Our first Orphan Affairs Unit (O.A.U) was established in 2001. The group, aged between 10 and 20 yrs and headed by a president and vice president voted for by the group members, meet on a regular basis to discuss and formulate plans to address the problems and issues faced by young people living within their communities.





Although initially comprising a single group based at Kalolo (central-west Malawi), we now have a network of over 20 OAU's across southern Malawi sharing ideas and working together to support and encourage each other.


Meeting weekly, the groups are forging strong voices for themselves within their communities and providing important channels for dialogue and social change.


OBJECTIVES:

  1. To ensure that the rights of orphans and other vulnerable children are protected, their basic needs met and opportunities created for them to reach their fullest potential
  2. To assist elderly guardians caring for orphans and other vulnerable children through the provision of basics such as food, clothing and blankets, as well as assisting with housing maintenance and agricultural work
  3. To encourage and support orphans and other vulnerable children in their pursuit of education.
  4. To participate in the development, organisation and implementation of strategies to assist orphans and other vulnerable children
  5. To develop fundraising activities to support the work of the OAU
  6. To conduct awareness campaigns within communities on the support and care for orphans and HIV/AIDS prevention.
  7. To provide social support for one another.


Having an impact locally, nationally and internationally


The achievements of the O.A.U groups since 2001 have been enormous. Not only have they made major contributions to the development of their own communities, through fundraising activities, educational campaigns and construction projects, they have also begun to play an important role in the national and international development of support strategies for young people affected by HIV/AIDS.


In 2001, our first OAU president Hawa Majola was selected to represent the group at a Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa, while our first OAU vice president Timothy Dawa was elected to join the Malawi Children’s Parliament.


In addition to this, in 2002 OAU Secretary Yembekezani Misiyasi was invited to address a Southern African Editors’ Conference (SAEF) on the problems faced by orphans and other vulnerable children and on the importance of children's participation in addressing and finding solutions to the problems they face.


Significantly, in 2004 the O.A.U at Kalolo participated in the government assessment that led to the development of the current National Plan of Action for orphans and other vulnerable children in Malawi. They have also taken part in meetings with UNICEF (Malawi) and the Stephen Lewis Foundation to discuss issues affecting orphans and those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.


In addition to this, since 2003, the O.A.U concept developed by Consol Homes has, with assistance from UNICEF, REPSSI (Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative, Malawi) and Hope HIV (UK), been adopted in a number of other countries including Uganda and Zambia.


Further reading:

Introduction to Psychosocial Support (Presentation) [PDF]



EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT



We opened our first Community-based Care Centre (CBCC) for early childhood development in Kalolo in October 2001.


Designed to provide orphaned children between 0-6yrs living with elderly parents or guardians, particularly those on a low income, with access to early learning skills and activities, the centre initially registered 120 children and 4 volunteer caregivers.


It has since grown to over 40 centres in Lilongwe and Ntcheu districts, supporting 3,900 children - orphans and non-orphans - under the guidance of over 180 community volunteers.





Distribution of new school uniforms and backpacks


OBJECTIVES:

  1. To promote holistic early childhood development
  2. To promote learning and stimulation in early childhood
  3. To promote psychosocial care and support
  4. To reduce problems of malnutrition and incidences of early deaths


Children registered at our centres attend daily early learning classes in preparation for primary school. The classes are free and sustained by the contributions made by our volunteers, who provide teaching assistance as well as essential food supplies for the children's meals.


As a key part of this pre-school programme, trained volunteers are engaged in nutrition and growth monitoring of all the children registered with the centre.


Further reading:

Study on Neonates and Infants under Grandparents' Care [PDF]

Service Learning Presentation by Ruth Maulana [PDF]



RUTH ACADEMY



Supporting young people to access quality, low-cost secondary education



In September 2018 Consol Homes opened the Ruth Academy in Namitete, Lilongwe, to support orphans and other vulnerable children to access quality, low-cost secondary education.


We have been providing educational support to primary-school going children for over 17 years. However, for many of the children we support, progressing from primary school level into secondary school has remained a significant challenge.





New classrooms at Ruth Academy, Namitete


There are a number of reasons for this, but two of the primary factors are the difficulties of accessing scholarships to government secondary schools and the very high fees charged by private schools.


With the opening of the new academy, however, Consol Homes is able to ensure that the young people it supports can continue to develop the vital skills and knowledge they've developed in primary school and go on to have greater access to employment opportunities in the future.


Set up as a social enterprise, the academy is a member of the Independent Schools Association of Malawi (ISAMA) and is currently providing secondary education to over 100 girls and boys.


Further reading:

Ruth Academy Values [PDF]