Children are often the silent victims of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. In many traditional Kenyan societies, children were seen, and not heard. As HIV and Aids tore apart communities and countries in the 1980s and 1990s, people tried to understand what was happening.

However, children's needs were largely ignored. Younger children were rarely given any explanation for the loss of their family. And a member of Kenya AIDS NGO's Consortium. The impact of HIV and AIDS is huge; many of the consequences have yet to be felt. In particular, the long-term impact on children is often ignored as the more immediate needs of adults are met. The different ways in which children are affected by HIV and AIDS, and brings together many ideas on how to help meet their needs. It has been a very difficult issue to put together in terms of understanding the huge and growing impact.

We hope it will not only challenge but also encourage community to work together and take practical action in whatever ways may be appropriate for our community. Our involvement to work on HIV and AIDS is no longer optional. The concerns and impact are too great. We all need to work together to face this challenge.

That may mean changing our attitudes and prejudices, it may mean sharing information and education. It may require advocacy work to challenge existing policies; for some, it may mean taking practical action in supporting, caring or opening our homes to those affected or infected by HIV and Aids. Though Cherish Others Organisation is taking action to address HIV and AIDS, most of the challenges that HIV and AIDS bring still need to be met by caring individuals.

We all have a role to play in ensuring that the next generation is allowed to grow up supported, loved and understood. We need to make sure that all children, no matter how seriously they have been affected by HIV and AIDS, are allowed to have dreams and a hope for the future. The impact of HIV and AIDS on children has been grouped into three broad categories. These effects are closely linked to the social and economic status of a family and the level of the epidemic in a country.

  • Loss of social and family support
  • Shame and discrimination
  • Physical and economic impact

Loss of social and family support: A child belongs not only to a particular family but also to a community, wider family. Culture and religion. Their education, health and self-esteem are close linked to these. The losses of a parent often mean these other support systems are lost too. Some children are separated from their brothers and sisters and taken to other homes. Others stay with grandparents who are too old to teach life skills. The emotional impact is great.

Stigma and discrimination: children often face discrimination and are labeled as "AIDS Orphans", when people know their parents are HIV-positive, children may lose playmates, and be denied the chance lose playmates, and be denied the chance to attend school or church (because of their immoral parents). Children who are HIV - Positive are sometimes denied food because people assume they are going die any.

Physical and economic impact: Some children leave school to look after their sick parents. At their death of a parent children may lose their sick parents. At the death of a parent, children may lose their property to greedy relatives and neighbors. Access to other services, such as education and healthcare, becomes difficult and many children have to fend for themselves. Mission creates information and education Programmes will help raise people's awareness of children needs.

  • Committees to support orphans are a common coping strategy
  • Clubs for children of HIV-positive parents have been developed children are helped to cope and understand what is going on.
  • Life skills training and counselling help children to cope with their emotional needs.
  • Legal protection will be provided to prevent children losing their family property.
  • Political structure help to ensure that children's practical needs are met.
  • Restoring and strengthening self esteem
  • Supporting children as they grieve so they avoid long term trauma.
  • Building decision-making and negotiation skills
  • Empowering children so they are able to take responsibility for their own life.
  • Building values and hope for the future.

Cherish Others Organisation Kenya Programmes still do not give enough attention to children's emotional and social needs. For example, children really need an adult to provide a substitute for their parent. They need someone to talk to about their hopes and dreams. The challenges are greater when children lose access to education.

Children's support Programmes (tuition fees, material support) often stop at the age of eighteen. However, many of these young people continue to live a difficult life with many challenges. Their need for counseling and other support may not stop just because they became adults. The challenges of this work need us all to be involved. May this information help to move you forward rather than making you think, Oh no…! Not us again.