These were the very first words I heard from Anastasia, the director of the Kisumu-based non-profit organization, Our Lady of Perpetual Support for People Living with HIV/AIDS and Orphans (OLPS). Even from the relatively little time I’ve spent with her so far, it’s clear to me that Anastasia has an enormous amount of love in her heart for everyone who comes into her life, and she treats each one of us as her own child. I hadn’t even been in Kisumu for a full day yet and I knew I had a family here.
This is just a small glimpse into the incredible amount of love and support Anastasia and the whole team at OLPS provide to members of the community who are affected, either directly or indirectly, by HIV/AIDS. They run a Voluntary Counselling and Testing clinic and, in 2014, they opened the Kisumu Children’s Rescue Center (KCRC) to provide a safe and empowering home for orphans and vulnerable children in the community. The KCRC is meant to be a temporary home for these children while the social workers at OLPS strive to identify capable guardians for them and prepare these families to take good care of the children. I spent my second day here at the KCRC getting to know some of the children and staff members. There was lots of laughter, smiles, and a really great dance party (which resulted in even more laughter from the kids – my Luo dancing needs some work!)
In addition to the 23 children living at the KCRC, OLPS supports thousands of people in this community in various ways:
2000+ people living with HIV are being treated and cared for;
100 women are participating in a program to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to child;
880 primary school children are in the OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) program, which offers care and support in 7 key areas:
– food and nutrition (provision of food and supplements)
– health (treatment at OLPS dispensary)
– education support (payment of school fees, provision of uniforms and supplies)
– psychosocial support (household visits to offer counselling services to children)
– shelter (if an OVC household lacks proper provisions, resources are allocated to provide shelter, clothing, mosquito nets, etc.)
– care and protection (paralegal services ensure that all OVC they support are legally registered citizens and that the interests of OVC are protected from abuse by relatives)
– coordination of care;
88 secondary school students are currently being sponsored (since the sponsorhip program began in 2006, 450 students have successfully completed secondary school because of the support from OLPS, giving them the skills they need to successfully forge their own path in life)
If you want to help the team at OLPS continue to provide incredible support to people living with HIV/AIDS and orphans in the community, please take a minute to give what you can at www.classy.org/erinritarose. I can assure you that all of your donations are going towards projects that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the programs here at OLPS and the Kisumu Children’s Rescue Center. Thank you so much for all of your support!
I’ll leave you with some snapshots from my first full week in Kisumu: