Unemployment rates over 80% in rural areas have a harsh impact on orphaned and vulnerable youth. Options for improving their circumstances, such as pursuing job training or higher education, are few and virtually inaccessible to them. Girls have even fewer options than boys, pressuring many into early marriages in an attempt to secure some means of support for themselves. High rates of HIV/AIDS and a lack of reliable information about HIV transmission, risks and treatment combine with patterns of early sexual behaviour and abuse to add to the number of orphaned children needing care.
Bopoma Villages’ Youth Against AIDS Club was developed to meet the needs of orphaned and vulnerable youth in the surrounding rural area. A group of approximately 30 youth attend weekly meetings faithfully, some travelling for hours on foot and by bus to attend. They receive mentoring, teaching about HIV/AIDS, health, nutrition and essential economic and social skills and regularly participate in volunteer activities to support orphaned children and their families.