Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) groups for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) were initiated after reflecting on the great achievements of adult SILC groups. It was seen necessary for OVC SILC groups to be implemented to help the OVC caregivers meet their economic needs so as to help the children they take care of and also create funds for the children’s future education.
To start off, community mobilization meetings were held where community members and caregivers were informed of the program’s approach on how children with their parents or caregivers will benefit. Eligibility criteria is per the MVCC National policy Guidelines on most vulnerable children who were already members of MVCC were automatically eligible to join the SILC groups. Each group has between 25-30 children and as of July 2011 a total of 26 SILC groups with total membership of 841 members (400M, 441F) were formed with of total of Tshs 1,064,950 in three months.Every child on registration is given a passbook for his/her records. Parents are the one contributing towards their children’s fund, every week they have to make a compulsory contribution of Tshs500.
They also have an option of making an extra contribution towards their children’s fund on top of the 500, which is also recorded in the Passbooks on top of the compulsory fee on weekly basis. Parents/caregivers are motivated to contribute more into their children’s fund as after 3 months they are allowed to take a loan of up to 3 times of their extra contributions amount they make to help them in other personal issues or business activities. To help all children stay in school and focus on education, they are not allowed to carry out any income generating activities hence IGA training is focused on caregivers to provide them with the capacity so that they can manage the weekly contribution for their children. So far they have been helped with cultivating their farms and starting up small businesses.
Children in these SILC groups hold meetings once every week, whereby the caregivers have to make sure that their children attend these meeting with their weekly contribution. In these meetings children are provided with psychosocial support to start off and education on HIV/AIDS. They also carry all other activities involved in children school clubs such as sports dancing and drama .These meetings are split in different sessions to cater children’s age as some are too young to participate in educational sessions or sport activities. At the end of each meeting the appointed OVC administrator informs all children of the total group SILC balance of that week and each child gets a chance to check their passbook to note their balance before handing it back for safe keeping. The Passbooks are managed by the TUNAJALI implementing partners for safety reasons. The compulsory fee is mainly for the children where caregivers have no access to this fund. This helps children buy scholastic materials, uniforms and future saving for their further education.
Caregivers are really happy and appreciative with the idea of OVC SILC groups as they believe they have been given a way of saving to help their children’s future since they have no limitations on the extra contributions, the little change they remain with is always sent to the their children’s fund which is slowly adding up to a large amount. They no longer need to wait for external funding to be able to buy their children scholastic materials or uniforms and for that they thank the TUNAJALI program.