Orphans in Great Distress (OGD) is an outreach program based in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Africa University. It is a way the university reaches out to help those in need of special help in surrounding areas. Ms. Farai Mugweni, RN and Certified Midwife, is Africa University’s face for the hundred orphans and their caretakers in this program.
Ms. Mugweni is eminently well qualified for her work. In addition to being a Registered Nurse and Midwife, she is certified in Occupational Health & Safety, and she also has a degree in Adult Education. Equally important, she has years of practical nursing experience. Before she began working with the Orphan in Great Distress program, she worked with orphans in another program called the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Educational Support & Care (OVC-ESC) Project.
The OVC-ESC Project was a larger outreach program also based at Africa University. It had its beginning in 2004 with the goal of strengthening caretaker families by providing food, clothing, shelter, health care, and educational support for them. It also tried to promote community participation in the support of orphans and vulnerable children.
At its peak, the OVC-ESC Project was helping several thousand orphans and/or vulnerable children. Volunteer Health Coordinators were identified and trained in each community, and each was equipped with home-based care kits. Unfortunately, the OVC-ESC Project funding ended in September 2010, and it has not been renewed.
However, one hundred orphans who were in greatest need were made part of the new Orphans in Great Distress program. Eighty percent of these orphans are HIV-positive as well as being in very difficult social situations. Government and mission hospitals/clinics provide anti-retroviral medication for them, while the OGD Project provides food and other support.
The funding for this program was made possible by children in Birmingham, Michigan, who had saved pennies and dollars for needy children around the world. Ten thousand dollars of this money was earmarked for the OGD program after the sponsors reviewed it and felt it was the kind of effort they wanted to support.
This funding source will end when these funds run out. Ms. Mugweni and Africa University are sending a comprehensive report about these orphans to another interested sponsor in the United States. It is hoped that funding will be approved so that these orphans can continue to be helped. The need is clearly monumental.