At least 120,000 people in Colombia are living with HIV, according to UN figures. Of those, 18,000 are children under the age of 18.At least 120,000 people in Colombia are living with HIV, according to UN figures. Of those, 18,000 are children under the age of 18.
A long civil conflict has displaced thousands of Colombians and plunged many of them into poverty. The poorest are often not able to access basic services like healthcare and education. Poor displaced women are most at risk of contracting the virus.
HIV is a pressing issue that receives little attention in Colombia with public attention diverted towards armed conflict and the war on drugs.
Ignorance about HIV increases the risk of mother to child transmission. HIV and AIDS-related illnesses place a huge burden on these mothers who are sometimes unable to cope with the pressures of motherhood and end up unable to care for their children. Children living with HIV face rejection by their families and communities.
Fundación Dar Amor (FUNDAMOR) provides shelter and care to children living with HIV/AIDS in Colombia’s third largest city, Cali. Originally established in 1992 as a home for terminally ill adults living with HIV, it has since evolved to provide housing and services to orphaned or abandoned children living with HIV from all parts of Colombia. With love and dignity at the heart of its approach, FUNDAMOR provides children and adolescents with health services, nutrition, education and recreation. Children are offered counselling and placement at a local school with the aim of giving them as normal and happy a childhood as possible.
With over 22 years of experience, FUNDAMOR has reached 90,000 beneficiaries through its programmes and services, including 560 boys and girls living with HIV/AIDS. Its shelter in Cali currently houses 56 children and young people, while 160 children between the ages of one and five have access to quality education, nutrition and therapy. FUNDAMOR’s Prevention Programme has helped raise awareness about HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections among 81,000 Colombians.
Photos: Fabio Cuttica/Stars Foundation