The ongoing pandemic has made life more difficult for vulnerable communities globally. In resource poor communities, more families face food insecurity due to the impact of COVID, and other factors such as climate change and conflict. For the last 18 months our goal has been to keep families in our program educated on COVID prevention and healthy, and to ensure that children attend school/continue with schoolwork. All 500 HIV+ children enrolled in our pediatric HIV care program inspire us every day with their positive attitude and their actions to overcome challenges. All of them are heroes. Given below are two stories of children who are staying healthy and attending school. These children receive food, medicines, regular health monitoring, training in adherence, and counseling. Their families receive education in HIV, ongoing training in how to take care of an HIV+ child, environmentally friendly cooking stoves, COVID education, and insecticide treated bed nets.
Jas (name changed) is a 15-year-old girl who lives with her mom as she lost her dad when she was eight. Her mom is the sole caregiver for her, her brother, her grandmother, and three orphaned step siblings (a total of 12 people in her household). They live with her grandma in a 4-room house which has no electricity or water. In 2008, Jas was tested for HIV as she had complaints of diarrhea and vomiting. Soon after she enrolled in our pediatric HIV care program and her mom enrolled in our micro loans program so she could receive business training and loans. Her mom used loan funds to start a fruit and charcoal stand. Post enrollment, Jas's health improved steadily, and she is adhering well to her medication. She is a sixth grader who loves school.
Brad (name changed) is a 16-year-old boy who lives with his parents, and three siblings. Both his parents are on treatment for HIV. His family lives in a two-room home with no electricity, or water. His father lost his part time job during COVID and his mom sells bread. In 2016, Brad tested positive for HIV as he had complaints of diarrhea and stunted growth. He started treatment soon after, but his health did not improve. In 2018, he was enrolled in our pediatric HIV care program. After enrollment, his health stabilized, and he has no complaints now. He adheres to his medication regimen, is a sixth grader and likes school.
It is the positive attitude of the children enrolled that makes this program unique. Each child is special, brings us unlimited joy and inspires us every day. Thanks for keeping hundreds of children like Jas and Brad healthy and in school.