The Day Care Centre at Paballong is an important part of the community-wide approach that the Centre takes to advising, counselling and supporting all those affected by HIV and AIDS. Some of the affected households live in extreme poverty, with a single parent (who may be HIV positive) trying to bring up children, or a grandparent raising her grandchildren after their parents succumbed to AIDS. There are also child-headed households, where teenagers must look after their younger siblings.
Having to stay at home to look after pre-school children can increase the already heavy burden on elderly carers; prevent younger adults from going out to find whatever work may be available; or stop older children from going to school. The Day Care Centre is able to provide a safe, happy, educational environment for some (not all) of the very young children from these vulnerable families during the day, relieving their carers of these problems.
Christmas falls in the long summer school holidays at the end of the Lesotho school year, and is the time when children move on to the next stage of their education. The Day Care Centre tries to celebrate this for its ‘graduates’, with a simple Christmas party before the Centre closes for the holidays and these older children move on to start primary school. Even for little children, Basotho like to celebrate such events with miniature academic dress, which probably bewilders the wearers but pleases their carers!
In December 2017, the Paballong UK Trust provided modest funding to help the Day Care Centre hold this Christmas party and provide simple gifts to all the children at the Centre, as well as their siblings. The presents they were given included school knapsacks and water bottles, as well as simple household goods like candles, matches, toothpaste and some basic clothing. A happy time was had by all!