This month the session for the adolescents living with HIV (vetri kootam) was on reflecting and valuing the relationships around them. It has always been a challenging experience for young people living with HIV, in overcoming the fear due to self stigma and finding good relationships that helps them handle the fear and creating sense of self respect.
Prior to the discussion on relationship around them, the young people shared their experiences of opening up their HIV status to their close friends. Three of them have recieved positive support one of the three; sheela expressed "I was always scared about sharing my HIV status to my friend, and after the previous month support group meeting I took the courage to share my status and was surprised to receive a supportive response from her. She is more closer and more concerned about me now and I am very happy about it".
Later the discussion on the various relationships and the levels of influence each relationships have were discussed. The majority, especially orphan young people have valued the center based support group as their source of support and motivation. On discussing what they have gained from the cherished relationships, it has been love and encouragement, especially when they have felt lonely and depressed. The session became very emotional, when the orphan young boys expressed that their complete source of encouragement has been the support group.
Hari expressed, "Being a complete orphan is a challenging one, esepcially growing into an young adult. The realtives who showed care, now seemed to be more opportunistic, especially in taking custody over a piece of land that is in my mother's name. For me, now it is the freinds here and the center, is building me and giving me a focus about life."
The day ended with the young people cutting a cake in celebrating the friendly relationships that they have gained through the support group. Among the 15 participants, majority are complete orphan young people and the others are under the care of widow mothers.
The support group, vetri kootam is organised every month at Buds of Christ center and is impacting the lives of young people living with HIV to set higher goals and lead life positively. This programme is supported by Global Giving through the Care and support for adolescents living with HIV. We thank the donors for making the change in the lives of these young people living with HIV.
This month support group for young people had a clear purpose of addressing stigma related to HIV. As the focus of the organization for the year is to destigmatising HIV, the first meeting of the support for the year started with the session on the perceptions of stigma and ways in overcoming stigma.
The discussion became emotional when the group shared their experiences of facing stigma. The sharing revealed how the young people were greatly affected by the discriminatory attitude towards them.
As the group felt that addressing self stigma is much easier than sensitizing the community, the members evolved the following points as progressive steps for overcoming fear;
Each member in the group have taken up the level they are comfortable and will develop plan for execution and share their experiences, next month.
At the end, almost the entire group felt it was necessary to address self stigma and three of them have expressed that they are taking up the challenge of sharing their HIV status to their friends and one to their relative which they have been thinking for a long time.
Dear Friend and PartnerThis is the best time of the year to thank you, as you took the step to touch the lives of our children at Buds of Christ.As we near the end of the year 2014, I bow my head to thank God for you! because you are a blessing for Buds of Christ.As I type the mail, I remember the quote of Mother Teresa “We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love”Because its only through friends like you that Buds of Christ can be here with resources to love and support struggling orphan children and families who have nowhere else to go for support.This year alone, your generosity has helped us to directly support over 220 orphan children affected by HIV and AIDS in areas of their Health, Education, Advocacy and Leadership. Your love, generosity has lit the light of Hope in the lives of our children. How true it is that the smallest act of your kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.We take this moment to give you thanks for who you are and what you have done in the lives of our children. We can say no other answer; but THANKS, and THANKS and ever THANKS.Sincerely Giving Thanks not only helps us recognize how our children are blessed through you but it also motivates us to continue to do good for those who are in need.Thank you so much for being a blessing!with thanks and regardsJeyapaulFounder Director
Kavi (10 years) and her sibling brother (13 years) went out of the hospital with a cheerful heart. It was Kavi’s birthday and she and her brother had come to collect their monthly medicines ART, at Government Hospital.
As part of the Little Stars group at the hospital, they attended today’s session on personal hygiene. After actively participating in the session, Kavi was one of the two who enjoyed the sweet surprise of cutting birthday cake at the hospital. Kavi expressed “Today is the most happiest day in my life, because it has been the first time experience in my life in cutting the cake”. Kavi and her brother lost both their parents to AIDS when they were very small.
The Little Stars Support Group Meeting is part of Buds of Christ initiative in partnership with health department of Govt in helping children living with HIV, be comfortable in accessing the hospital and making it more child friendly; and the birthday cake cutting was initiated and supported by the staff of the ART center.
Buds of Christ’s reason for existence is to empower children affected by HIV and AIDS to live life with dignity and support them to emerge as children of hope of courage to their peers.
On 12th July 2014, the support group for small children (5-12 years) was started at Tiruchengode Government Hospital premises. The primary purpose of this support group for children is to help children cope up with their HIV illness, make friends who are living with HIV and to support themselves in adhering to medicines and treatment.
The care takers of these children are mostly grand-parents or widowed mothers who are less educated that makes the condition more vulnerable for smaller children not understanding the purpose of being healthy. So the support group involves play-way method with children to feel more comfortable with the environment and communicate better about their health condition with the hospital team.
In the first group, we had 8 children who are HIV positive. The youngest was a 4 year old boy who is studying Kinder Garden. There was a girl thirteen years who has not gone to school for the last two years due to ill-health condition. In the first meeting, introductory games were introduced so that the young children know each other better. The counsellor of the ART center also got involved along with few care takers which made a way for better communication between children and elders. School educational kits were also distributed to the children who attended the support group.
Note: Photograph for this report is not posted because the premises was a Govt Hospital and we did not get permission
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