Orphaned children most often receive help which caters for their material needs. In 2011 CATCH provided a programme for 65 maternal orphans and their caregivers which we called “CIRCLES”. The programme was holistic in nature offering psychosocial help to both child and caregiver as well as help in kind for example securing life documents, grants and issuing uniforms and food parcels. Many were referred to doctors and other specialists. CATCH liaised with educators in the schools,.
Some educators reported improved behaviour in children who were acting out their grief in a disruptive manner in the classroom. All educators were pleased to be able to consult with the caregivers through the mediation of the CATCH workers.
Our contact with the orphans also resulted in a few children being statutorily removed from their caregiver because of abuse and neglect.
CATCH worked in three circles of care. An outer circle (the community) the middle circle (caregivers) and the inner circle (the children). The picture below was taken at the end of the programme when the children, their caregivers and members of our community action forum met to celebrate the success of the programme.
The children (ages from 6 to 16) met for 40 weekly structured group therapy sessions. Working in groups of ten each with two facilitators, the children were given the opportunity to understand their legitimate feelings of loss, anger, sadness and worry and express these in a constructive way. Orphans often experience discrimination and are vulnerable to abuse and destructive behaviours and so assertive training was also given. Because orphans are often marginalised, our aim was to bring inclusion. All of the children became fully participative in the CATCH children’s clubs and related in a more successful way in the playground at school and in the community. The children much enjoyed a 3- day adventure camp.
The caregivers were also given the opportunity to share and understand their feelings. Grannies have borne the burden of caring for orphans and this, together with the challenges of poverty, seems an unfair lot in life. CATCH treated the caregivers to a weekend away at a seaside resort where they could share their burdens, have fun and feel nourished and cherished. The caregivers also attended 20 support group sessions during the year. They were grateful for the food parcels received whilst waiting for child and foster grants and their burden was eased with the provision of school uniforms.