Foster Care for Children Orphaned or Displaced by HIV/Aids

Kenosis provides foster care for up to 18 children with three foster mothers. These are vulnerable children often orphaned by HIV/AIDS. They are given a home and schooling and are supported by a governmental foster care grant.

Quality Care for vulnerable children

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  1.  To provide a home for vulnerable children and children orphaned by HIV/Aids.
  2.  To instil in them an identity and Christian Values (values which include respect for self, others and the environment, acceptance, love and compassion)
  3.  To further the children’s educational development.
  4.  To prepare them for Adulthood and self-dependency.

The Beginning

In 1997 several developments took place on Kenosis’s door-step that made it acutely aware of the reality of the HIV/Aids pandemic wracking the nation. The growing number of deaths locally could not be ignored and Kenosis felt strongly convicted to seek and join hands with efforts to alleviate the plight of children left either homeless or displaced by the epidemic. This led to Kenosis joining CINDI an organisation co-ordinating efforts to alleviate the suffering being visited upon children. They along with other institutions “Aids and Child “and the Swiss Foundation for Direct Assistance to Children Affected by AIDS, helped Kenosis launch its own AIDs Orphan Project.

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Deciding on an appropriate model

Cindi presented several models when it came to caring for orphaned children

  1.  The most basic and therefore the most preferred was a model to accommodate or absorb the children with their extended families.
  2.  Where this was not feasible, the possibility was then to explore the feasibility of substitute or foster care families within communities, who could be identified to care for the children.
  3.  This lead to a third tier model whereby foster mothers might live together with small groups of orphans in an already settled community.

Given Kenosis’ particular circumstance, it seemed the third option, one of Cluster Foster Homes, best suited Kenosis.

More specifically, with Kenosis lying in the midst of a Farming Community (i.e. Bishopstowe), a particular model developed in Zimbabwe by the Farmers Orphans Trust (FROST) seemed most appropriate. This programme sought the involvement of commercial farmers in caring for orphaned children on their farm.” The programme is based on the belief that orphaned children have the best opportunity for development within a family, remaining in their family groups without sibling separation, in an environment that is familiar and where they can learn their culture first hand.”(Dr Sue Perry). Kenosis chose to go along this route and did so with the support of CINDI.

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The Aids/Orphan project today

Much has happened since the project’s inception. Three Foster houses were built for Foster Care whilst the other three houses were occupied by Kenosis employee families. Known as “our village” each foster home has a foster mother and can house up to six children. Bringing a total of 18 children that can be housed at Kenosis. The Foster Mothers have family members or friends staying with them to assist in the care of the children. At present we have xx children living in our village.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are our Foster Mothers?

Thandekile Hlongwane came to Kenosis in February 2000. She was the first Foster Mother to be assigned children. She was trained as a Child Caregiver at the Pietermaritzburg Children’s Home. Furthermore she obtained practical experience with orphaned children whilst working with an organisation call Thandanandi at Greys Hospital.

Nomthandazo joined the Kenosis Foster Care project in September 2003 after the untimely death of her sister who had been a Kenosis foster mother before her. She had assisted her sister for a year before her passing; and her appointment seemed a logical transition having already established relationships with the children.

Hlengiwe Dludla came to Kenosis in August 2002, to take on the responsibility of the third Foster Home. Orphaned herself at the age of seventeen, she had taken on the care of her four younger siblings. This experience helped equip her to in turn take on the responsibility of fostering orphaned children at Kenosis. At present all three mothers have 6 children each in their care.

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How do children come to Kenosis?

Kenosis has worked together with the local organisation Pietermaritzburg Child Welfare Association. Where they identify a “vulnerable” child and in terms of that child’s safety, select the child for foster care. Pietermaritzburg Child Welfare then approach Kenosis to establish whether there is room to place the foster child. The logistics required to complete the placement are then done in partnership with the association. Similarly some children are placed at Kenosis through our dealings with through the Department of Welfare, which is a state institution. At present Kenosis is at full capacity and cannot cater for any additional “foster children.

How old are the Children?

Ideally Kenosis prefers to take children form the ages 0 to 6 years to minimise challenges of integrating them into both the family and schooling environments. There are exceptions particularly in the case of placing siblings where priority is given to placing them together at Kenosis. Today Kenosis has a cross-range of children and young adults where older children are encouraged to serve as role models to their younger peers. Our objective is a challenging one, namely that the children should grow up in a healthy environment that will ultimately enable them to realise their dreams and fend for themselves.

How long do the Children Stay?

This differs with each child. Some children only stay for a brief period of time before being either integrated into their extended family or being adopted. As the children get older, their chances of adoption grow smaller as most adoptive parents prefer that babies join the family. Most of the Foster children at Kenosis have stay for longer periods while Social Workers engage with the family and rehabilitate them so that the children can re-join them. This is a very difficult and drawn out process and realistically, reintegration seldom takes place. Children at Kenosis can therefore stay in the care of their Foster Mother indefinitely although Kenosis actively partners and assists with their journey to become independent after completing schooling.

What does Kenosis have to offer foster families?

To our Foster Mothers, Kenosis offers

  1.  Free Accommodation (Lights and Water) and Water.
  2. Monthly supplementary funding.
  3.  Transport for Schooling, Medical and Social Welfare requirements
  4.  Office Logistics (telephone and computer) and Networking.
  5.  Facilitation and
  6.  General support

Our Foster Children enjoy the benefits of

  1.  Volunteer Support
    a. Crèche
    b. Supervised Homework.
    c. Extra- Curricular Activities
    c.i. Sports and Recreation (Netball, Soccer, Mountain-biking, BMX)
    d. Selected interest groups (Permaculture, Bible Study Groups etc.)
  2. Spiritual Growth
    a. Church and daily chapel.
    b. Kids Week Outreach Programmes and vacation camps.
  3. Youth and Life Skill Activities
  4. Social Welfare Workers (each are assigned a social worker with further access to psychological services)
  5. Aptitude Testing
  6. School Leaver Opportunities:
    a. SLOT Programme
    b. Tertiary Training Grant.
    c. Volunteer Programmes – Local and Abroad.

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