When we take care of our children, we take care of the future of our society.
Changes in social, political, economic and family structures often have the greatest impact on children. In the event of armed conflict and other emergencies, the impact can be devastating. At HEAL Africa, we recognize that children are dependent individuals in need of nurturing and guidance from their caregivers to become independent adults. We believe they must be given the right to protection and given opportunities to health and wellbeing. While we are unable to address every facet of a child’s physical and socio-emotional development at this time, HEAL Africa makes every effort to address children in their transitions. HEAL Africa’s current activities with children focus on health care and education.
Our services for children focus on their health, protection, and education.
Over 3.5 million children at the primary level do not have access to education. Most children, if they can afford it, begin after the age of six.
Many of the children treated at HEAL Africa fit into these statistics. When children or a loved one are undergoing treatment, we provide educational opportunities within the hospital for learning. Children are plugged into Tuungane School within the hospital and participate in Sunday School activities through the Chapel. For many of the children, HEAL Africa is their first exposure to education. Some children have received sponsorships from donors to continue their education outside of HEAL Africa. The progress is tracked by staff and reported to their sponsors.
We also partner with local schools in the community, where many of the most vulnerable children reside. The relationship allows staff to follow the progress of children but also offers opportunities to mobilize public health education initiatives. Learn more about the Goma Student Fund.
There has been a reduction in childhood mortality rates across the globe. Unfortunately, preventable childhood deaths and congenital issues remain a challenge in DRC. Fighting against HIV/AIDS, reducing neonatal mortality, treating and identifying congenital malformation, disabilities, and addressing malnutrition are HEAL Africa’s current priorities when it comes to providing healthcare or children.
HEAL Africa offers surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders. Our primary focus is to address malformation among children. The process is complex and expensive, but as the only provider in the region with medical expertise, many will travel miles for assistance. Periodically, we conduct outreach services in rural communities to offer treatment, as well as to those living in refugee camps.
The prevalence of AIDS/HIV is immense, and eastern DRC is not exempt.
Through a partnership with Global Strategies, HEAL Africa’s Children’s AIDS Program is the only program dedicated to children living with HIV in eastern Congo.
HEAL Africa focuses on three categories of children with HIV. Those born with HIV positive mothers, those who are confirmed HIV positive, and those who have been orphaned as a result of neglect by caregivers and / or community upon contracting the disease. HEAL Africa provides personal counseling, medical assistance and public health education focused on prevention, support, and reducing the impact of HIV in a child’s life when they are born from infected mothers.
The impact of HIV in the community has necessitated over 50 support groups and over 100 youth clubs, where peer-to-peer education is fostered.
Children have suffered the most in the DRC’s armed conflicts and environment of absolute poverty, from malnutrition to sexual violence. Many have become orphaned due to economic challenges in the family. Others have lost their guardians as a result of the devastating conflict or a debilitating disease. Some have fled or have been isolated from their own communities as a result of sexual violence. Some don’t have a home or family to go back to at the end of the day.
For many of the children (and some now young adults), HEAL Africa is a place of refuge from the distractions outside. In addition to providing some semblance of education and addressing their health, HEAL Africa connects children to resources and activity groups within and outside the hospital. These activities focus on tackling gender issues, promoting non-violence, and particularly those that aim to increase resilience. When necessary, HEAL Africa will reintegrate children back into their communities or connect them to new ones.
HEAL Africa provides space for vulnerable children within and outside HEAL Africa to practice Capoeira. The Afro-Brazilian martial art, which combines music, dance, and acrobatics, has become a popular outlet, drawing a surprisingly large number of girls.