Children Enrolled are Precious and Inspiring
Our pediatric HIV care program (provides a comprehensive package of life saving health care services to 400 HIV+ orphans and vulnerable children) in Zambia, is unique for the following reasons.
1. The program is comprehensive; program activities target the whole family and not just the child who is enrolled. The primary caregiver of the child (most are grandmothers caring for multiple orphaned grandchildren) is provided with training in basic nursing before the child is enrolled. Also, expecting moms are automatically enrolled in our PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV). In addition to better care for the HIV+ child, this leads better knowledge about HIV, prevention of new infections, reduces stigma, and results in better care for all children in the household.
2. This program is integrated with our micro loans, malaria prevention and educational games and activities programs. This implies that in addition to the HIV+ child receiving health care, the family receives insecticide treated mosquito bed nets, education in malaria, and an opportunity to enroll in our micro loans and “Safe Park” programs.
3. We have been working successfully on the ground for more than 15 years now and are embedded in the community. Churches and other organizations provide us with referrals and have come to rely on our services.
4. But the most important factor that makes this program unique are the children. Each child is special, brings us unlimited joy and inspires us every day. Stories of two such children are given below.
Mary, aged 13, is a double orphan and lives with her widowed grandmother. She lost her father to TB in 2013, and her mom a year later due to a complicated miscarriage. She and her younger sister are enrolled in 2012. Mary’s grandma suffers from high BP and diabetes, so she is not able to provide proper care for Mary and her sister. At this time, they are being cared for by their uncle. There are eight people in a three-room house with no electricity and they use communal water.
Mary suffered from fever, diarrhea and cough since she was two years old. Post enrollment her health stabilized and with medication her viral load is at an undetectable level. She is a seventh grader and loves school. In Zambia, exams at the end of seventh grade are tough but she is confident of doing well and being promoted to grade eight in January 2020. She participates regularly in our weekly games and educational activities program. Despite, her difficult circumstances, Mary is focused on doing well at school and interacts well with other children. We are inspired by her.
Frank is the youngest of four siblings. He lost his mom when he was just one month old. His father remarried and moved to the north western province, so he is being cared for by his aunt (mom's sister). Frank’s aunt sells used clothing that she orders from Tanzania. Frank enrolled in our pediatric HIV care program in 2018. He is a ninth grader and a good student. He likes music and plays an instrument with the Church band. He is a source of joy and an inspiration for us.
Thanks for giving the gift of health to hundreds of children like Mary and Frank.