The children living with or affected by HIV and AIDS also receive psychosocial support. In addition to training interested teachers to become counsellors, the project has helped establish groups and rooms for counselling at all schools.
Tamirat Kassahun is a teacher who works as a volunteer counsellorwith SENSE in Debre Markos. He says, “This is actually a real opportunity for me as I’ve studied psychology.One of ‘my’ children is a 14-year-old girl, who lost both of her parents. She is obviously upset and although she is a very good student, she has become frightened of exams. She lives with her uncle and she has to help do the household work. I tell her to focus on her education, because she has to work hard if she is to compensate for being all alone. We speakabout making a plan for her studies, so that she can do her homework at night. She’s also concerned about not having a boyfriend and she wants to know if that’s normal.”
In Tamirat Kassahun’s school 258 out of 1,100 pupils are orphans and more than 32 children are living with HIV. His job as a counsellor is not always easy. “Some children told me that the boys took a girl living with HIV to the recreational area for sex and I know that some girls have illegal abortions. I always recommend these girls to have an HIV test and to abstain from sex. We tried to distribute condoms, but then the missionaries protested, and the police too, because some of the girls are below the