Big Shoes was founded in response to the many children within children's homes in South Africa who had been left to die because they were thought to be HIV positive.
However, many of these HIV tests were false-positives as the incorrect HIV tests were being conducted on children under the age of 18 months. Once it was discovered that these children were in fact HIV negative, the window of opportunity for adoption had passed.
Big Shoes lobbied the South African government for a policy on the correct HIV testing for children under the age of 18 months. This was approved by the High Court and is still legislation today. The work then expanded to include medical checks for children eligible for adoption and all the medical testing and assessments that go with that.
Their mandate is to ensure that children are provided with every opportunity to find 'forever families' and thus avoid a lifetime of institutionalised care. This is achieved through early HIV testing and where a child is positive, early commencement of ARV treatment. For children eligible for adoption, Big Shoes doctors ensure that the correct medical testing and assessments are done as early as possible so that the child can move through the system faster.
Through their intervention, children no longer have to wait at State Hospital paediatric out-patient departments waiting to see a District Surgeon. This is a long tedious process and one that results in many children missing their window of opportunity for adoption.
Big Shoes works as quickly and as efficiently as possible to ensure that children do not have to remain in institutionalised care longer than is absolutely necessary.
As their involvement in the child care system deepened, Big Shoes identified other critical danger points with regards to the care of orphan, abandoned and otherwise vulnerable children. They now also:
- Train police and social workers in emergency medical care for new-born babies
- Provide emergency first aid packs
- Train child and youth care workers in basic child health and HIV
- Provide consultative Paediatric Palliative Care (PPC) ward rounds in government hospitals
- Train professionals in PPC in partnership with the Hospice Palliative Care Association of SA
- Advocate for post-exposure prophylaxis against HIV for abandoned babies to prevent mother to child transmission
Please support the REPLACE Campaign. Our objective is to get all children who are in orphanages placed into loving families and to prevent those who are at risk, from going into orphanages.