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Health Program

From the beginning, we knew that providing orphans with the necessities of life covered only their most basic requirements. Because very few ever had medical care, Young Heroes’ vision always included the goal of also providing them with health care. Since 2009, we’ve been able to achieve this goal by offering:

Clinic Visits for All Children

  • Medical screening
  • HIV testing and counseling
  • Male circumcision
  • Free medication
  • Sivivane Camp

  • Biannual SeriousFun Children's Camps for children challenged by illness
  • Teen Clubs

  • Monthly clinic visits for HIV+ children
  • Monthly support groups for HIV+ children and teens
  • Clinic Visits

    At the core of our health care initiative are Young Heroes Days at clinics around the country. Working with the professionals at each site, we set a date which we announce to all of our families in their cachement area. Because transportation is expensive, we pay the fare for the children and caretakers.

    While the program is voluntary, we strongly urge the families to come – and they take full advantage of the opportunity. Nearly 90% of our children have now been seen. As we add new communities, we schedule Young Heroes Days at health centers in their areas.

    At the clinic, the children are entertained by games, songs and clowns while each is individually examined by a medical professional. Those with illnesses are seen by a doctor; if necessary, a referral is made and Young Heroes pays for all medical and hospital costs.

    At the same time, we offer free HIV testing and counseling on site. The response has been overwhelming: Not only have more than 85% of our children been tested, but their caretakers test at a rate nearly double that of the general population, and community members drawn to the event get tested, as well.

    If a child tests HIV+, the family is given priority for full Young Heroes sponsorship. We also then provide funds for monthly transport to the clinic for a check up, along with paying for medication needed beyond antiretrovirals, which are free.

    Sivivane Camp

    In siSwati, a sivivane is a carefully stacked pile of stones that represents a place of refuge on a long journey.

    Sivivane Camp made its debut in 2010 as the result of a partnership with Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps (now SeriousFun Children's Network). Now, camps are offered twice a year, usually in April and August. Under the medical supervision of doctors from the Baylor Center of Excellence and the leadership of a staff of well-trained local young people, each two-week camp offers over 100 children living with HIV a place where they can “raise a little hell” while they learn how to live healthily.

    Along with games, music and art projects, the program offers emotional and educational support through structured activities designed to teach life skills, foster constructive relationships, develop responsibility and build confidence and self esteem. All this is done by providing a forum for adolescents to constructively express themselves and discuss issues regarding their condition without the threat of stigma.

    Teen Clubs

    “I really thank you, Young Heroes, for coming into my life and helping me. Now, I no longer go to school without food and I have a decent uniform like other children. Through your counseling I have also accepted my HIV status and I have peace with myself now.”

    - Sandzilsile, age 15

    For those children who test HIV+, their clinic visits coincide with Teen Clubs at eight clinics around the country.

    Reaching nearly 1,000 children with HIV, the clubs are crucial to the children's physical and psychosocial health alike. They give the young people the chance to share their experience with others who face the same challenges; reaffirm their commitment to adhering to their medications; acquire resources to deal with their illness; and have some fun.

    In 2012, Young Heroes was asked to take on the job of coordinating all eight clubs, as well as establishing two new clubs for 200 children.

     

     

    To implement the Young Heroes health care program, we gratefully partner with a number of organizations working on the ground in Swaziland. Among them are:

  • Population Services International
  • Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative
  • SeriousFun Children's Network
  • Clowns Without Borders
  • U.S. Peace Corps
  • Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
  • Swaziland National Children's Coordinating Unit
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