Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Stigma and discrimination exacerbate OVC’s plight

The plight of Batswana’s HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) would be further exacerbated if they suffered similar stigma and discrimination like their Liberian, Sierra Leone and Guinea Ebola poverty stricken counterparts says South African-based Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) Acting CEO Maipone Bada-Ramatlo.

Giving a keynote address during Masiela Trust Fund’s (MTF) Women High Tea Pogramme in Gaborone recently, Bada-Ramatlo said the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other humanitarian bodies observations provide emergency services and material assistance to the West African Ebola pandemic countries involved the despicable denigration of children by society whose parents had perished from the deadly Ebola virus. At the time of going to press, mortalities that have risen to nearly 6 000, would have more or less catastrophic consequences if postulated not only to Botswana, but to the region as a whole.

The passionate feminist and humanitarian child activist called on Batswana to reawaken and intensify benevolence towards the cause of OVC based on the MTF theme: ‘Your Child, My Child’, given their predicaments which include poverty, lack of parental support and guidance coupled with societal indifference.

The NMCF CEO said: “Although the SADC region is still Ebola-free, however, WHO HIV/AIDS morbidity and mortality statistics of 40% and 50% for South Africa and Botswana, respectively accentuate the magnitude of OVC. With SADC as the HIV epicenter, it bears the brunt of the devastation the pandemic has wrought to families and communities. Children and youngsters depend on those in position of power to make informed decisions concerning their basic rights and well-being.”

She encouraged MTF to adopt best practice strategies from NMCF of building community agencies and creating micro-finance systems to foster self-determination. She added that the focus of their services is on advocacy for children’s rights and raising financial aid for OVCs.

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