Hope for AIDS Orphans in Thailand

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FXB International (http://www.fxb.org) announces the expansion of its Village Model Program in poverty-stricken Si Saket province of Thailand. The Village Model Program is a comprehensive response to the AIDS orphans crisis that enables families and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and better provide for vulnerable children.

Since then, we've seen an outpouring of awareness and funding for prevention and treatment programs, but the needs of orphans and children, as well as the families caring for them are often ignored.

Albina du Boisrouvray, president of the humanitarian organization François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) International, will announce the expansion of FXB's Village Model Program at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand tomorrow. FXB has been working in Thailand since 1990 to address and support orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS, and the Village Model Program enables families and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and provide for the children in their care.

According to UNICEF, by 2010 one out of three orphans in Thailand will have lost their parents to AIDS. FXB is expanding its Village Model Program in Si Saket Province in the northeastern region of the country, where poverty is most acute. Children in this area are vulnerable to drugs, sexual exploitation, and violence, and often lack access to education and health care. FXB currently has villages in Buriram and Mahasarakam Provinces as well.

FXB beneficiaries in these two new Village Model Programs will be comprised of approximately 100 families, mostly children, of Thai ethnicity, as well as minority Laotian and Cambodian ethnicity. Si Saket borders Cambodia, and most people in the region make a living through agriculture or by migrating long distances for work.

FXB currently has 31 villages in operation in 6 countries across Africa and Asia. While FXB expands these efforts, it is also working with donor countries, advocating that donors should commit 10% of their HIV and AIDS funding to programs that support orphans and vulnerable children.

"We have been working to address AIDS orphans for over 19 years. When we began, few people knew about HIV and AIDS. Officially, it did not exist in many countries where we work," said Albina du Boisrouvray, who has been an advocate of AIDS orphans since the early days of the pandemic. "Since then, we've seen an outpouring of awareness and funding for prevention and treatment programs, but the needs of orphans and children, as well as the families caring for them are often ignored."

Unfortunately, with the spread of AIDS and the heightened poverty, orphans can no longer depend on their extended families and communities for care after their parents' deaths. In countries that are deeply affected by the pandemic, children are left destitute and alone, with eldest siblings - sometimes as young as 12 - having to work to support the family.

An FXB Village Model is a comprehensive and integrated approach to this crisis that empowers families to attain economic and social autonomy over a three-year period. FXB provides families with cash grants to start small enterprises, such as pig rearing or shop-keeping, that enable them to provide for the children in their care. At the same time, program participants also receive nutritional and medical assistance, school enrollment, professional training, HIV prevention and treatment, and psycho-social counseling.

This global methodology is both effective and inexpensive. Each Village Model Program costs $172,000 over three years - only $110 per person per year. A recent external evaluation of the program's long-term socioeconomic impact showed that 86% of beneficiaries still live above the poverty line four years after finishing the program.

http://www.fxb.org

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Kathleen Letchford
FXB USA
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