This is a guest post from Amanda Allen-Toland, Program Manager at the Asia Pacific Business Coalition on AIDS and Elizabeth Reid, Serendipity Educational Endowment Fund Trustee.
Before the arrival of HIV in Papua New Guinea, the extended family provided a sound support base to care for the children of family members who passed away. However due to the large number of people living with HIV and AIDS in PNG, estimated to be 60,000 people, extended family support mechanisms are struggling to cope with the rising numbers of children that need care and support following the death of their parents or primary caregiver.
There has been little focus on the children of the HIV epidemic. There is little understanding of their situation and few people are working with them. Some of these children are infected, all are affected. They face many problems. One overwhelming problem is the likely loss of an education, which has serious ramifications for their futures. Children whose parents are infected are often lost to school long before their parents die: tension in the family, unaffordable school fees, family breakdown, a parent leaves or dies, they are stripped of their inheritance, of land or home, and more.
In 2008, as a young Australian entrepreneur, Craig McMahon donated $250,000 to the Asia Pacific Business Coalition on AIDS (APBCA). APBCA immediately consulted with its national affiliate, the PNG Business Coalition Against HIV and AIDS (BAHA) and following further consultations, realised the gap in support for children made vulnerable by the epidemic. Shortly after, the Serendipity Educational Endowment Fund was established with the original $250,000 donation and has now grown and receives funds from the Myer Foundation and the PNG Sustainable Development Fund.
The Serendipity Fund supports families all over PNG by providing funds to enable children affected by HIV to complete their education. The program covers the cost of schools books, uniforms and fees. The average cost of a child’s education in PNG is $3,000. Without a parent or guardian to cover these costs, most leave school and work to contribute to the extended family household.
Australian film-director Kasimir Burgess has made a short film about the Serendipity Fund, called “Hope for Life”. The film provides a rare opportunity to hear the stories of children whose lives have been affected by HIV.
The Serendipity Educational Endowment Fund provides funding for a quality, sustainable education to children living in the region whose lives have been affected by AIDS. Serendipity benefits children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS, children whose parents are living with HIV and the children of families providing support. This program is currently operating in PNG, where approximately 200 children are receiving financial support to continue their education.
For more information about the Serendipity Fund and how to contribute, go to www.apbca.com
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Global Health News
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.