Nurses have been involved with children’s issues for a long time. In 2000 FNIF launched the Girl Child Policy and Research Project to address health policy issues affecting girls aged 10 to 14. In the course of this work, ICN and FNIF have been increasingly drawn to the issue of orphaned children, particularly those of our nurse colleagues.
We know that nurses are dying daily. We also know that, amazingly, most children whose parent or parents have died have been cared for within the extended family. Families, at great cost, continue to take responsibility for around 90 per cent of orphans in the region. However, without support many of these children will not be able to go to school.
This led us to think about developing a broader initiative to address the overwhelming needs and numbers of orphaned children in Africa: thus the Girl Child Education Fund was born. Launched at ICN’s 23rd Quadrennial Congress in May 2005, the response from the world’s nursing community has been spontaneous and generous. However, much remains to be done and ongoing support is vital.