Lurdes Langa, an HIV-positive mother in Manjangue, was growing concerned for the children in her community.
As an active volunteer, she saw every day how vulnerable children needed a safe space for support in early childhood development, nutrition, and HIV.
“Children in my community could reach age seven without significant physical, cognitive, emotional, and social growth—without even knowing the colors or the alphabet—which makes it difficult for them to perform well at school,” she comments.
Lurdes has extensive training as an early childhood development volunteer, so she is able to provide additional support in child protection, psychosocial services, nutrition, and HIV information. But as her concerns for her community grew, so did her desire to help.
Her outstanding work in her community earned her a nomination to join World Education’s Bantwana Initiative as an animadora (early childhood development facilitator). Lurdes then volunteered for World Education’s Força a Crianças e Comunidade (Community and Child Strengthening, FCC) project to help support orphans, vulnerable children, and their households.
Now at the Escolinha Comunitaria Minha Esperança, Lurdes oversees 68 children, including 3 HIV-positive children and 11 children with at least one parent living with HIV. Lurdes and other such animadoras provide daily lessons to enrolled children to aid in their psychological, cognitive and social development that is both interactive and learner centered.
Soon after starting there, Lurdes realized that some of the children come to the center hungry, and saw how deeply that affects their learning process:
“Together with community leaders, my colleagues and I have tried to mobilize caregivers and community groups (churches, local merchants, and others) to contribute food, especially for the preparation of enriched porridge in the schools.”
Thanks to Lurdes’s outreach, the center has received community contributions of fruits, maize, vegetables, eggs; and some caregivers are making a monthly contribution of 50 mtn ($1) per month.
As an HIV-positive mother herself, Lurdes can relate to the struggles facing many of the children and families that benefit from care at her center:
“I sometimes experience bouts of sickness. But my work at the early childhood development center makes me feel better, both physically and mentally. I am dedicated to contributing to the health and intellectual development of the children in my community. Being a childhood educator can be an occupation for caregivers and other community members infected by HIV.”
Community volunteers are trained through the project and play an integral role linking children and their families with services to meet their needs. Our impact would not be possible without the help of community volunteers.
The USAID-funded Força a Crianças e Comunidade project is an initiative aimed at improving and expanding evidence-based models of integrated support for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and their households, implemented by World Education/Bantwana in collaboration with the Government of Mozambique and a range of local partners. FCC reaches more than 100,000 vulnerable children and adolescents with integrated services to help them thrive and grow into productive and healthy adults.