The community of Matero - one of the largest and poorest slums in Zambia’s capital, is characterized by a high incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria, with unemployment rates upwards of 60%. Most residents are utterly impoverished, living on less than a dollar a day.
For the last decade, Matero has benefitted from the Arms Reach Care (ARC) program. Developed by project partner Power of Love Foundation (POL), this innovative project uses a unique community-based approach, focusing on strengthening pediatric home-based care, and providing the training and resources to improve the health and educational opportunities for HIV+ children.
Currently, 250 HIV+ children enrolled in the ARC program receive food, medicines, and life-saving health care services, including weekly check-ups from community health workers, monthly visits from the project nurse, psychosocial counseling, and medication adherence monitoring and training. Ongoing training in caring for an HIV+ child is also provided to caregivers (most are grandmothers). As a result, most children stabilize in health, can attend school, and live close-to-normal lives.
Other components of the program include Prevention from Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), with a 100% HIV-free rate for babies born to enrolled mothers in the past four years; and distribution of thousands of long lasting insecticide-treated nets to families vulnerable to malaria. POL’s micro-finance program further strengthens the family unit by providing small business loans, training and support.
About 760 children are enrolled in POL’s “Safe Parks,” which provides a safe after-school environment for learning, homework and play. Launched in 2014, the accompanying “Young Stars” pilot program is designed to assist exceptional but vulnerable children achieve their dream of continuing education after high school.