Wednesday, December 15, 2010

UNICEF Gives Hope to Uzbek Children

UNICEF has been supporting day care centers in Uzbekistan for children affected by HIV/AIDs and creating a positive effect in Uzbek communities. Since June 2010, over 550 children who have experienced stigma and discrimination because of their HIV status have found solace in these kinds of centers.

Today, four UNICEF-supported day care centers for children and their families function in the country’s capital, Tashkent and in the provinces of Andijan, Namangan and Fergana. In these centers, children and adults whose lives are impacted by HIV are given access to psycho-social support, medical and legal counseling and most importantly to an environment free of stigma and discrimination. These centers also help surrounding communities by providing HIV/AIDS awareness programs, care and treatment for HIV positive children including orphans, and support groups for families.

By removing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDs, these centers also give families affected by the disease a sense of hope. One mother’s experience is indicative of the positive effect centers have had on people’s lives in Uzbekistan: "When we came to the Center, it was the first time I saw moms like me and children like my son. They were playing, talking and having a good time. I received counseling and openly talked about my problems with other parents. This was a great relief for me. I stopped feeling lonely. This experience completely changed my life and today I am a full time employee of the Center."

-Clare Ortblad