Because so many people have died from AIDS, there are around 200,000 children in Lesotho who have lost one or both parents. Normally, family members care for children when their parents cannot but with so many orphans, traditional support systems cannot cope. Bracelet of Hope supports a Foster Home programme run by the Apostolic Faith Mission Social Development Division (AFMSDD) and led by Pastor James Qhobela to care for orphans so that they grow into healthy, well-balanced, productive adults.
Rather than place children in an orphanage where there is a high risk of stigma and discrimination, the AFMSDD establishes foster homes in the community. Up to eight children live in each home with a foster mother or parents to care for them. Each home is associated with the Apostolic Faith Mission congregation in that area and a church committee oversees each home. The foster mothers receive a small stipend for their work and the programme provides the children with food, heating fuel, school fees and uniforms, and medical treatment when needed. To support the programmes, the AFMSDD manages a farm to grow maize and vegetables. Part of the produce is used for the foster homes and the excess is sold to provide funds for other needs.
An AFMSDD social worker provides support to the foster mothers and to the children. Twice per year, the AFMSDD brings all the children together for a three-day "camp”, an opportunity for further psychosocial support for the children. Because of the AFMSDD’s work, the children in the foster homes are growing up in a loving and caring environment. They are going to school and their medical needs are being met. Without this support, they are at risk for ending up on the street, on drugs and engaging in dangerous behaviours. Instead, they are growing up to be healthy and contributing members of their communities.
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