Improving Physical & Financial Health Through Positive Parenting Classes in DRC

Photo by Sam Phelps for CRS

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In a context of chronic poverty or illness, where resources are always in short supply, learning new skills for communicating with your children may not seem like the top priority. But caregivers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have found that when relationships with those they love are right, then that social support can lead to physical, emotional and even financial health.

The Coordinating Comprehensive Care for Children (4Children) project, a 5-year USAID-funded project, works to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) affected by HIV and other adversities. Improving parenting skills of caregivers affected by HIV is having lifelong effects for the caregivers and their children. Even in contexts of chronic need, caregivers are testifying to the value of positive parenting in bringing harmony and health to their families.

caregiver training in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In positive parenting sessions, caregivers come together weekly with facilitators to receive training to communicate effectively with their children. Photo by Sam Phelps for CRS

Sarah*, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lives with HIV and is the mother of 7 children and a caregiver to many nieces and nephews who have lost their parents.

The 4Children project provides OVC caregivers with parenting courses based on the evidence-based Sinovuyo Caring Families curriculum. In this program, parents come together weekly with trained facilitators, and receive training in techniques to communicate effectively with their children, set clear expectations, praise positive behavior, practice non-violent discipline, and manage the stress that comes with caregiving.

Two different 12-14 week-long programs are available. One is for caregivers of children ages 2-9; the other is for caregivers of adolescents ages 11-17. During each weekly lesson, parents participate in role playing where they compare negative and positive behaviors. They take their newly found skills home with them, and then discuss their experience with the other parents and trained facilitators the following week.

Sarah says that through her involvement in the parenting program she has been able to communicate better with her family. She says she is using other ways to discipline her children rather than yelling and hitting them. By prioritizing the family's needs together, Sarah has been able to save money to send her children to school. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment is her ability to bond with her daughter, who is also HIV-positive.  


“I believe that support and accompaniment from the positive parenting group, ESENGO, has really helped me to collaborate with my daughter, who has the same health problem as me. She reminds me discreetly to take my medicine and I [do the same to her], and we have a sense of harmony together.” — Sarah


Sarah is not alone in finding the ESENGO groups helpful to improving her parenting techniques. In a post-training survey, 93.2% of participants reported using at least one of the positive parenting strategies taught in the ESENGO groups, and 88% report using at least one of the strategies for non-violent discipline.

*Name has been changed to protect the confidentiality of members of PLHIV (People Living with HIV) support groups.


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This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under cooperative agreement AID-OAA-A-14-00061. The story contents are the responsibility of 4Children and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.