Strengthening Support for the Most Vulnerable Children
At just 16 years old, Miriam Francis
is the head of her household, taking
This situation is not unusual in Kenya,
where roughly 6% of the population is
In 2002, the Baptist Relief Agency Africa (BARAA) was created to form a nationwide church response to HIV. In 2008, BARAA was awarded a PEPFAR grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control under the New Partners Initiative (NPI), to fund HIV activities and support OVC and people living with HIV. This grant assists BARAA's 16 indigenous church partners in four districts.
In addition, BARAA was given assistance for the NPI grant from John Snow, Inc. and its partner Initiatives Inc., through the TA-NPI. With this support, BARAA has been trained in organizational management, technical programming for HIV, and technical assistance for financial, administrative, human resources, and monitoring and evaluation systems and processes.
With enhanced systems and skills, BARAA expanded
its support for children like Miriam. BARAA’s partners
received organizational and technical training and
hired additional staff, including bookkeepers and project
managers. A health care network was developed—particularly for HIV counseling and testing—and
psychosocial support referrals established.
Building the skills of OVC caregivers is also a critical
element of BARAA support. Mary Kiguthi is a project
coordinator for partner church Kenya Assemblies of
God. She was involved in the Kenya Assemblies of God OVC program, and participated in a BARAA caregiver training. Through the BARAA network,
Mary connected with Miriam and found a local HIV
"We went to talk to Miriam about HIV and the importance of being tested, and she agreed," says Lillian Mbatha, the local HIV counselor. "She tested positive and we referred her to the district hospital for treatment."
Kenya Assemblies of God helps roughly 40 children in
the eastern coastal town of Malindi through its
BARAA-supported OVC program. Each day the children
are given lunch and additional food is provided
to the families, as well as school materials and personal
items. BARAA also trained sub-partner staff and caregivers
on how best to respond to the needs of OVC.
In Mary's case, the training on psychosocial support
has proven very useful. When she was connected to
Miriam’s family, the siblings had no adult support, and
Mary recognized how bad their situation was.
"I see her every day; I am like a mother to her," says Mary. "I feel a burden for them as a family.""I tell Mary my deep needs, even if it's late in the evening," says Miriam. "She talks with me until I am calm."
While Miriam and her siblings have been helped by
the TA-NPI-supported BARAA network, much still
needs to be done. Their future on the family land is
uncertain and if they are forced to leave, they won't
have anywhere to live because Malindi is a beach
resort area and property rentals are extremely high.
Looking ahead, BARAA plans to reach out to the local
chief's office to help Miriam and her siblings obtain
birth certificates, which will help them gain legal rights
to their family land. BARAA also will discuss the land
issue at the district level, and contact Cradle, a nonprofit
organization in Nairobi that advocates for children
BARAA also plans to sensitize Miriam's extended family to HIV and negotiate with them to let the children remain on their land. And Miriam has expressed a desire for a support group, so BARAA and its partners will establish one that includes youth.
Technical Assistance to the New Partners Initiative (TA-NPI) is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and implemented by John Snow, Inc. (JSI). The information provided on this web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the CDC or the U.S. Government. The contents are the sole responsibility of John Snow, Inc. For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.