Our very own Skye Sieber is co-leading a trip to Malawi, Africa with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village. Malawi is facing an increasing number of orphans and vulnerable children as a result of the HIV/AIDS crisis that is compounded by poverty and food insecurity. Two years ago, Habitat for Humanity Malawi decided to intervene by starting an Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program.
Different from the typical Habitat model in which partner families receive a 0% interest mortgage and pay it back, under the OVC program Habitat has identified orphaned children families and build a house free of charge for them and their caretaker (often a grandparent).
In addition to their orphaned status, “vulnerable” means that these children have few resources to make them resilient to shocks such as illness, hunger, death of their caretaker, etc. The program delivers health education and legal work along with the house. For example with the legal work that is part of this initiative, if the caretaker passes away, the house would remain property of the children. This is a serious improvement over some projects done in the 1990s which experienced a land grab. With legal tenure in the house, the children’s wellbeing is more secure.
We don’t yet know who our partner family will be…this is usually not known until 1-3 months before the team arrives. We do know that we’ll be working in the Mulanje district located in southern Malawi. This area has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the country and quite a large population of OVC. Most residents in this district are subsistence farmers who earn their income from casual labor. The team will have the opportunity to place their work building a home within a broader social context to achieve a deeper understanding of the issues that many residents of Malawi face.
At a cost around $4000 for a modest home in Africa it would only take a donation of $35 from each Mermaid to make these orphans’ dreams a reality. You can make secure donations online or directly to Skye.