The focus of HVU’s program is on orphans, vulnerable children and women. One of the greatest effects of the AIDS pandemic is the impact on psychological and mental health of children who have lost their parents under traumatic circumstances. Out of this realization in 2011, HVU started “Camp Angelina Uganda (CA)’’. The overall objective of the camp is to bring together orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs), infected and affected by HIV, in a week long mentoring and training environment free from stigma and social stress, with the goal of imparting to them knowledge and skills in HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as basic survival skills. This will empower them to improve their livelihoods and build self confidence and aid in self discovery. We have observed that with relatively unsophisticated, direct and culturally appropriate psychosocial and economic support, interventions for children affected by AIDS, improve the resilience and coping capacity of children.
Goals Of The Camp
· To impart orphans and vulnerable CHILDREN (OVCs) with HIV/AIDS prevention knowledge, condom negotiation and basic life skills to be empowered to make productive and beneficial life decisions.
· To strengthen OVCs in both interpersonal and group communication skills for themselves as well as to share LEARNED information with their peers and future generations as a way to promote healthy lifestyles.
To provide a safe environment for open dialogue
To provide skills based training for women and young girls
To promote healthy coping mechanisms
Encouraging a positive outlook
Who Attends The Camp
Camp is attended by orphans and other vulnerable children between the ages of 12 and 18 who are both infected and/or affected by HIV.
These girls endure a lot of pressure on a daily basis but while at camp, the girls are able to spend a week free of stress, responsibility and fear, to have fun and just be a kid. It is always an incredible experience to watch them slowly open up throughout the week until they openly discuss issues without judgment and then eventually laugh and joke with their counselors/volunteers.
Words of Hannah Nelson (CA Leader 2013): “The girls were able to create relationships with one another and create strong bonds that we hope will last beyond the camp. One volunteer asked the girls how many hours she gets to hang out with her friends. The girls reply was “two hours or so”. The volunteer responded and asked “Two hours per day or per week?” The girl look at her confused and then replied, “Two hours a month… maybe.” Without the support of friends and family, the girls are often left to cope with the struggles of life alone. Some even mentioned fear of attending school because that is where they felt they were at the highest risk for rape and sexual abuse, either from the teachers or along the road to school. The barriers to education often seem insurmountable to these girls, the overwhelming majority of whom are either HIV positive, victims of rape or abuse, live in dire poverty, or all three”.
During the camp, the girls participate in a number of activities including health and education workshops surrounding issues of hygiene, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, self-esteem, relationship building, and root-cause analysis of larger social issues. Outside of the classroom, they play soccer, participate in sack racing, musical chairs, decorate t-shirts, learn the limbo, sing and dance both African traditional and western music styles.