Orphaids is consistently adapting to the needs of the people we serve
If you’ve been involved with Orphaids for a while you’ll remember that supporting people with HIV was a major area of our work when we first started the charity in 1997.
Thankfully, the need to advocate for and care for people – right from initial testing and diagnosis throughout their treatment and beyond – has diminished significantly due to more support being provided by hospitals and less stigma attached to the disease.
The HIV/AIDS support groups, setup as an initial response by Orphaids Ecuador, have become more independent and can now operate more freely as, socially, things have really progressed since the work first started. The Orphaids team has moved to a more consultative role – waiting in the wings to provide guidance and support to the groups where needed.
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HIV Support for patients and their families
However, the charity is still very much involved in caring for patients in the community and their families in both Ecuador and Colombia – whether that’s offering palliative care, giving psychological support to the whole family, supplying medicine as needed, paying for medical tests or ensuring there’s food on the table.
In a crisis situation in Ecuador, following assessment, a child or an individual patient may come to the Orphaids Centre for closer care or extra help.
Additionally, Orphaids Ecuador visits and supports between 25-35 affected children in the community with food and regular contact. This allows the team to see the children and assess how they are doing, being somewhat preventative in that if they see a child not doing well, they can act on this and try to prevent a crisis.
While, in Colombia, Orphaids comes alongside individuals who self-refer or are referred from the hospital as someone in need of more assistance than the hospital can provide.
HIV/AIDS Prevention - different approaches in Ecuador and Colombia
We see a vast difference in attitude between the Ecuadorian and Colombian governments when it comes to HIV/AIDS Education.
In Ecuador, the government has stopped organisations delivering workshops in any educational establishment, deeming that all teaching should only be conducted by the teacher.
Whereas in Colombia, we work closely with the Education Secretary for the area and gain access to all educational establishments to deliver training on sexual health, the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and moral living.
We also conduct wider family-focused workshops on these same areas plus parental discipline. These are well attended and are proving to be very successful. The promotion of healthy lifestyles and choices is a big part of the work that Orphaids Colombia carries out.
In Ecuador, Orphaids still works with the Ecuadorian government at a regional level, supporting their HIV & AIDS awareness activities, such as campaigns and marches on World AIDS Day (December 1st). There are also occasional opportunities to speak on local radio to promote the services offered by the team to a wider audience.
However, the predominance of activity comes from being able to freely engage with people at social events in the Santo Domingo area, such as street events and national celebrations, and the team has a regular presence in the main plaza of the City offering information on sexual health issues.
As a Christian organisation we also take any opportunity to share the Christian Faith. Local churches engage the Ecuador team to deliver workshops around sexual purity, moral living, and healthy relationships.