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Improving education and supporting children in Africa
30 November 2018

Improving education and supporting children affected by HIV and AIDS

Ahead of World AIDs Day (1 December) Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) wishes to thank a staff member for their international humanitarian efforts.

A member of the Trust's Communications and Engagement Team, Mark Habibi, visited Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) last week, as part of a charity educational programme covering part of southern Africa.

Mark (far left) and colleagues

Pigg's Peak may sound an unlikely African name for a pre-primary school but it was one of nine similar community schools across Eswatini that Mark visited.

A five-day road trip took Mark and his colleague across spectacular mountain scenery, through numerous police checks to sometimes remote rural settings. Along the way they received warm welcomes from children practising for their graduation ceremonies.

As BASED UK charity trustees, Mark & his colleague visited nine of the 25 schools working with the charity, in a country with the highest prevalence of HIV as percentage of population (adults 15-49 years) in the world as of 2016.

Many thousands of children have been orphaned by AIDS and there is an HIV prevalence rate of 35% amongst women aged 15 to 49.

Within this harrowing context, the Community Schools Programme (CSP) caters to the academic and personal development needs of 3-6 year-olds, including lessons in cooperation and mutual support, kindness and generosity.

The CSP also enables the children to participate in preliminary actions on social development at the village level, for example a successful public health programme to prevent scabies.

Mark said: "The visit really confirmed to me the multiple beneficial impacts of this longstanding programme and the extent of the need. Particularly poignant was the Neighbourhood Care Point visit where orphans and vulnerable children are given free education alongside a nutritious meal".

School children getting ready for lunch

The CSP focuses on provision of training and mentoring for (primarily women) teachers who have been selected by their rural communities to plan for the establishment of a pre-school.

The BASED UK visit was preparatory to a Small Charities Challenge Fund application to the UK Government to cover teacher training costs of the CSP over two years.

More information on BASED UK is available here: https://www.baseduk.org/