AHOPE is the only place in the country of Ethiopia that cares exclusively for HIV+ children. Many of these children have watched one or more parent die from AIDS, and often they have been abandon with no family member willing or able to take care of them. AHOPE ’s children’s homes are filled with love, care and nurturing for these children. For these children who have lost so much, AHOPE is place of giving and growing. The children at AHOPE are part of the entire AHOPE family and they live in one of two homes: Little AHOPE and Big AHOPE. Currently there are 95 children in these two homes. The homes are divided based on age which allows for more appropriate activities to take place at each home. Both homes are filled with care givers who ensure each child gets some individual attention which all children need. There is also a pediatrician on staff who works part-time with the full-time nurses. Teachers, social workers/counselors and well-trained, supervised, child-care workers are also part of the staff.
When you walk into Little AHOPE you are bound to be greeted with smiles and giggles; and maybe one or two shy “little ones” peeking around the corner curious about the new visitor. The children are likely playing together having fun and being silly. The children at Little AHOPE are well cared for and happy. The kids there range in age from infancy through age seven. These babies, toddlers and young children are loved and nurtured by a dedicated staff. The little ones have playtime, they learn to walk and to speak and they dance to fun music. They are also taught basic skills to ready them for school. Children of kindergarten and early elementary school age attend Worldwide Orphans Academy. And of course they are kept safe and healthy.
As is the case with children all over the world, the younger kids want to be with the big kids and not around the babies. So at about age seven, the children from Little AHOPE are moved to Big AHOPE. This places them in a more appropriate social and learning environment as they grow older. But because these children are in their formative years, there is a strong emphasis on education. All the children are able to attend school because school fees, uniforms, and books are all paid for by AHOPE. The older children attend several local private schools. They go on field trips to the Zoo, or a museum or they watch a play about HIV/AIDS prevention. And their education continues even when the school day ends. After school there are tutors available for the children to get any extra help they may need with their studies. But the kids have fun here too. You can always find someone jumping rope or climbing on the bars or playing a pick-up game of soccer. As these children grow into adolescence, their changing medical needs are also addressed.
Youth Transition Home
AHOPE is 10 years old, anti-retrovirals have been in Addis Ababa since 2005, and our kids are growing up. It’s a miraculous problem to have and we are happy to face the challenges of transitioning our adolescents to adulthood. As our kids become adults, the Youth Transition Program is being initiated to provide the children the skills necessary to prepare for their futures. Our goal is to provide job training, continuing education and a safe, age-appropriate home as our children grow. The first Youth Transition Home is set to open this coming April, 2012.