BaanGerda’s children are grouped into several families, with each family occupying its own house. Two parents — in most cases a married couple, but in some cases two widows — take care of about ten children. Each family functions like a traditional family, and we find that most children readily adapt to a new loving environment. Older kids are expected to help their younger siblings.
We have selected some HIV positive adults to serve as parents for two reasons: They, too, suffer from the stigma of HIV and typically find it difficult to secure work. And they are more likely to have a good understanding of the needs of HIV children.
Parents are responsible for administering medication, and to love their foster children as if they were their own. As one might expect, it has been challenging to find adults suitable to assume such responsibilities and to live in harmony in the community. In time we developed a set of community rules, established protocols such as a trial period for prospective parents, and introduced a compensation scheme — all of which has contributed to a good record of recruiting and maintaining responsible parents.