OSSA Dessie is one of the former branches of OSSA and it was establish 1994
About the branch office
Like other branches of OSSA, Dessie branch was established at the end of 1994 with the aim of combating the wide spread of HIV/AIDS and to provide holistic support for those people infected and affected by HIV. The branch holds the slogan entitled “Let us fight AIDS together” and concentrated on understanding mode of transmission, designing HIV prevention mechanisms and linkages of infected and affected people to the health facilities and care and support services.
OSSA Dessie Branch Office has been implementing tremendous HIVAIDS prevention components integrated with different care and support activities by establishing a strong and positive partnership with government partners as well as through participation of the communities at grass root level.
Ato Awel, Branch Manager
HIV Prevention Programme
HIV prevention primarily moves around HIV awareness education and HIV testing and counseling. To this point Dessie branch has dealt with promotion and distribution of condoms, safer sex education, production and distribution of informative IEC/BCC materials to bring about behavioral change. The HIV education has been given by using peer educators, mass education, organizing special events and organizing discussions and consultations among the communities. The community structures, anti AIDS clubs, FBOs, CBOs and other associations are strong partners which are aligned behind OSSA strategic movement to end the transmission of HIV and stop its adverse impacts.
HIV testing and counseling
HIV testing and counseling is another entry point for OSSA to persuade and bring people to get testing and know their HIV status. Currently, OSSA Dessie branch has shifted from former testing modalities and moving the new testing approach known as index case testing. This approach works by tracing the positive people and use them as a bridge to catch and test the entire family members. Thanks to the CDC’s relentless technical and financial support, index case testing and referral linkages to health facilities and care and support services have been going well.
Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH)
In a more rational thinking, sexual reproductive health is a state of complete, physical, mental and social well-being in all matters related to sexual reproductive health system. In this system, people particularly, young people need access to accurate information which ensures safe, affordable and acceptable contraception of their choice. With the financial support of the Dutch government (BUZA), the branch has engaged in the integration of SRH and HIV/AIDS and has been doing its best to address the key populations (KPs) which include young people, young PLHIVs and commercial sex workers with the age range of 10-24.
Sexual reproductive health is the new approach for the branch office to deal with. However, the branch has advanced more to work towards the goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights including family planning, STI screening and referrals, etc. The branch has been using peer educators to reach the young target communities using its facilities in Dessie and Kombolcha town.
Supporting Street Children/Youth
Dessie town is one of the big towns of Ethiopia where many people are living in relative terms. As other big towns of the country, Dessie town is overwhelmed by the influx of street children who are experiencing homeless and unlikely obliged to live on street of the city. These children are source of misery and unless well treated remain burden of the society. It is a conviction for OSSA that the street life is among hot spot areas for HIV transmission and unwanted pregnancy. As one component of Link Up project, Dessie branch recruited active and dedicated youth to engage in business and pull out them from street life.
This is done very well and OSSA can use the experience as a model and scale up the street children programme in other areas. The street youth are engaged in bakery, fast food and game zone to generate income for the groups
The economic status of orphaned and vulnerable children and their guardians are most likely low and consequently they are forced to live under severe poverty. OVCs are often facing challenges like physical and sexual violence, labor exploitation, harassments, physical punishment and alienations. Economically, they are dependent on others or move on leading street life if they have no other choice. OSSA’s programme of involving OVCs and their guardians in different income generating schemes and community self-help saving groups (CSSG) is quite indispensible to improve their life.
Currently, OSSA Dessie branch organized and provided startup capital for 783 beneficiaries of which 658 are female. 49 community self-help support groups were formed, got necessary business skills trainings and supported to get access to credit facilities. Those beneficiaries who are engaged in small business were similarly given essential trainings and do fruit and vegetable trade, animal fattening, sheep rearing, urban agriculture and other businesses of their choice.
From engagement in income generation activities, most of IGA beneficiaries have improved their life and able to cover cost of educational fees, house rent, clothing and food items. They have managed to easily access credit facilities from their own saving groups to further expand their business and generate more income from petty trade.
OSSA has provided different types of seeds and other necessary agricultural inputs and materials to encourage beneficiaries to engage in urban agriculture. Currently, almost all people engaged in urban agriculture are able to produce high yield vegetables and generate income from the sales of these products. They also managed to get the agricultural products for their own consumption at home.
The care and support services given by OSSA Dessie branch involve many elements including education support for OVCs. Most orphans fail to attend regular class to search for their daily subsistence or most likely drop out of school. OSSA’s intervention in education programme is a huge asset for children who do not have any other choice. The branch office has done substantial job in supplying school materials, school uniforms and other materials to OVCs and apparently able to maintain them in schools. While 86% of OVCs were supplied with school materials, 60% of them were supplied with school uniforms. In addition to these supports, volunteers are deployed to provide educational counseling and tutorial supports.
In most of the cases OVCs face multiple problems due to the loss of their biological parents. For instance, OVCs are highly emotional, psychologically and physically abused, fear stigma and discrimination by the community, lack proper health care and balanced diet. These situations make the OVCs develop low self esteem and hope, feel dependent, depressed and mentally ill. To curb these problems, the branch office has been providing ongoing psychosocial support by trained community volunteers. Twice a month, each OVC gets access to psychosocial support by the assigned volunteer. The intervention benefits the OVCs in the following manner.
Through great efforts and commitments of OSSA’s volunteers, majority of OVCs became self –confident and reliant. It has been realized that working with volunteers to address the basic psychological and other problems is the key solution for OVCs problems.
OVCs develop better social ties with their guardians, volunteers and teachers. Coupled with this, the support of volunteers help OVCs to attain positive personal growth and development.
In coordination with volunteers, kebeles administrative and guardians OVCs know their historical background and solve their identity related issues.
Food and Nutrition
Food is the basic necessity to meet physiological needs of growth, to maintain all body processes and supply energy required for human life. Scarcity of food comes from poverty and lack of adequate supply. In most extreme cases, poverty is lack of basic human needs such as adequate and nutritious food, clothing and housing. Most of children under OSSA’s support programme face chronic or acute food shortage for many reasons.
Using the predesigned eligibility criteria to select malnourished children, OSSA has been supplying children with food to sustain their lives. Through the support of WFP, OSSA Dessie branch has been providing needy families and children in need of basic and supplementary food. Children living with HIV AIDS have special privileges to get food items such as wheat flour, vegetable oil, rice, macaroni and milk powder.
In addition to the above services, OSSA Dessie branch intensively works on the provision of health care services and shelter care for OVCs and PLHIVs. Care providers and community volunteers are doing remarkable job in provision of home based health care services. House renovation is also done for very poor clients who cannot mend their houses or get other better houses to live in.
Networking and Partnership
Networking and Partnership The branch office believes that the organization has built a positive and meaningful networking, partnership and coordination with the government partners all stages. Thus, the branch takes this as good opportunity and optimally uses the partnership in good sense for running the community-focused HIV programme. As a typical example, kebele 09 in Dessie town provided land for free to support OSSA’s effort to engage OVCs or guardians in urban agriculture practices. Hence, OVC /guardians has been benefited by cultivating different fruits and vegetables.