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
Being an orphan boy born with HIV, life has been a struggle, especially when my only brother could not keep me with him because his wife was not supportive because of my HIV status. The sudden decision affected me that I felt alone and even felt unwanted. Left with no choice, I was placed in a government hostel to do my 11th and 12th standard. Initially it was shocking as I was very attached to my relatives and my brother, and it took me few months to cope-up with the situation and that was when I got involved with the support group.
In the support group of adolescents living with HIV, I felt like a big family. There were friends who encouraged me and supported me and that helped me to get back to normalcy again. I got interested in my life and started setting my goals of becoming a Chartered Accountant. But when I shared this dream, to my extended family, they mocked and were negative about it. They said that I should be getting into work and earn and make a living. But those words did not affect me, because peers in the support group stood by me and said that I can do it.
Yes now, I am proud that I have been able to achieve and be a role model to many like me. I am not alone now, I now have many friends like me at Buds of Christ, who motivate and inspire me to love and serve many like me.
I thank the donors for supporting our group which has helped many like me find hope to move forward in life.
Nadiya is 19 years old and positive speaker among young people living with HIV. She has been open about her status to adolescents living with HIV in the support groups to encourage them to be positive about their future. In a recent incident in her village a school friend whom she had know from small had come to know about her HIV status after a miscarriage. Her name is Reena (name changed) and she had been studying with Nadiya in the same school until 6th standard .
As Reena’s parents died at a very early age and she was brought up by her aunt. Reena got married when she was 18 years and when she had a miscarriage she was tested and found HIV positive. It became a big shock for Reena when she learnt her husband was HIV negative. Later on verifying how she would have been affected, she found she was infected from birth and her parents had died due to AIDS. On knowing this, her husband has deserted her and she wanted to commit suicide.
Nadiya, who comes from the same village had learnt about the incident went and shared about her status and how she is living healthy with treatment. She also brought her to the center to meet with the support group to feel encouraged to see others like her.
At the end Reena expressed “If not for Nadiya I would have committed suicide, I lost complete hope as my husband had rejected me and now my aunt’s son’s wife with whom I am staying wants me out of the family as she fears HIV may be contracted to her child though my presence at home. But after coming here and seeing many like me, I feel supported and have hope”.
Dear Donor, we want to share this story, of how your money is providing care and support to adolescents living with HIV, who are often neglected or discriminated because of their health status in their community. Buds of Christ is able to support many children and adolescents living with HIV through your generous support. We welcome you to share these testimonies and reports to your friends and families and help us impact many young lives find hope and a future.
An Art workshop was organised for adolescents living with HIV by Esther Joosa, Director of the Arts of the Earth, Singapore.
The workshop brought in 20 adolescents who were able to express their emotions and healed of their hurts through art. In the exercise she asked all the participants to express their likes and dislikes through art. For most of them exploring their feelings through art was a first time experience. The most interesting part of the exercise was it helped even the silent adolescents express their feelings to their peers.
For an orphan adolescent boy, the support group of adolescents living with HIV has been his strongest like. For an orphan adolescent girl living with HIV, the art helped her to emote her suppressed pains and hurt feelings. The workshop strengthened the relationships among peers and led Buds of Christ to have a closer look at the real concerns of children born with HIV.
Esther Joosa, is a volunteer from Singapore International Foundation who came all the way from Singapore to impact the lives of adolescents living with HIV
“I have realized that life can begin again and neither HIV nor TB can affect my future.” - shared after meeting the peer members of the support group of adolescents living with HIV
Thalapathy, 15 years old is a HIV positive adolescent and studying 10th in a government school. He is living with his widowed mother who is also living with HIV. His father died of AIDS when he was three years old and Thalapathy has not been informed of his HIV status.
Though he was affected from birth, his mother had been very protective of him. He was not provided with information related to HIV and because his immunity was good, he was not advised treatment either.
Recently, he had complaints of severe head-ache, weight loss and blood vomit that shook both his mother and himself that he approached Buds of Christ center. He was immediately taken to the government hospital and in the routine testing, it was found that his immunity had become low and thus he was further affected by Tuberculosis. This became a big shock for him, as he had just come to know about his status and that he had to take treatment for the two infections (HIV and TB).
Initially he found it hard to adjust to the treatment, as the side effects were very severe. But when he met with the peer members of the support group who shared their experiences of taking treatment and how their health conditions have improved; he was assured that these symptoms were only for a short-while and he can live life with dignity and hope. He is regular now on both the Treatments (HIV and TB) and is fervent in an ambition that he would share with children like him living with HIV, how he overcame his life challenges.
He also adds that “I have a dream and I am sure I will definitely achieve it. I thought I was going to die , and the side effects caused me more pain. But when I met friends like me living with HIV and coping so positively I now have the hope and I have realized that life can begin again.”
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