2014 Psychosocial workshop in Addis Ababa for staff of orphanages for children with HIV/AIDS - Under the auspices of "ART Joy Love"
On January 20-23, 2014, as part of the "ART Joy Love" project, a psychosocial workshop was held in Addis Ababa for staff members of orphanages for children with HIV/AIDS. The workshop was instructed by Mrs. Estelle Rubinstein (Director of the Hadassah Social Services department), Mrs. Ahuva Yavin Arnon (psychologist from the Pediatric Psychiatry Unit at Hadassah), and Prof. Dani Engelhard (Head of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Unit and the Pediatric AIDS Center at Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem).
This internationally relevant workshop was designed based on years of clinical experience by the multidisciplinary team of the Hadassah Pediatric AIDS Center, as well as on the team's teaching experience with international professionals. This workshop, which just took place in Ethiopia, was continuation for previous "ART Joy Love" expeditions - including a similar workshop which took place in Ethiopia last year (2013). This project is an expression of the central role psychosocial aspects play in the treatment of children and adolescents living with HIV, particularly when they are also orphans.
Eighteen Ethiopian caregivers including psychologists, social workers and nurses who work in five orphanages in Addis Ababa, Debre Markos and Mekelle, who collectively care for about 500 orphans, participated in the workshop. The topics discussed included the ways in which children can be helped to cope with their very difficult life stories, behavioral problems, disclosure of the HIV diagnosis to the children, issues related to sexuality and sex education in the context of HIV and how the children coping with the stigma of HIV and orphanhood can be helped to strengthen their self-esteem. In addition, focus was placed on the needs of the care-givers themselves and on how burnout may be prevented in people who do such emotionally challenging work.
The workshop encouraged open discussion and the sharing of knowledge and experience. There was active involvement by all participants throughout the 4-day workshop. The issues discussed highlighted the fact that the orphanage care-givers deal with children in extremely difficult life situations and that this requires an appropriate approach, knowledge and deep commitment.
The Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, H.E. Belaynesh Zevadia, showed great interest in the psychosocial workshop and even participated in one of the sessions. She conveyed her deep appreciation to the Ethiopian and Israeli teams and to "ART Joy Love" for their commitment to these children.