Kristina and Matvey
MAMA+ staff first met with Kristina, 33, in the middle of March 2014 at a hospital prenatal unit. According to information provided by the unit staff, that moment the woman was in abstinence after drug abuse, though she denied that. MAMA+ staff members provided her with the details of the project opportunities, psychological support and contact information. Kristina promised to think it over and call back. On the following day, she gave birth to her son Matvey. The boy was transferred to a children’s hospital immediately for treatment and care provided to children born prematurely.
Two weeks later, Kristina called to MAMA+ and asked for the project support. It was found that she had been using injection drugs for over 16 years. In 2009, she served a term of confinement in prison. That was the period when she refrained from drugs and wanted to change something in her life. This is when she learned she was HIV-positive. However her main problem that several times brought her to risk behaviors was inability to arrive at understanding with her mother. Frequent conflicts were putting the family at risk of segregation.
Kristina could not stay with her relatives in a communal apartment, as her room was occupied by her brother with his girlfriend while she was in prison, and another room was shared by her mother and her step-father who abused alcohol and often worked off anger on her. A teenager, Kristna began to live on her own staying at her friends’ and spending much time on the street where she got addicted to drugs and experienced a sexual offence.
When Matvey was born, Krisitna’s mother kept her away from home. The woman stressed that her drug-abusing daughter had no right to give birth to children at all. Doctors of the children’s hospital where the baby was placed in also supposed that Krisina would not be able to cope up with her addiction and would not take her baby home. MAMA+ staff began their work with the client with assessing her resources, providing her with psychological support and motivating her for substance abuse treatment. It was found that Kristina’s main resource was her domestic partner, Matvey’s father. He had no experience of using drugs and had no HIV-status.
Escorted by the project staff, Kristina visited her son at the hospital. MAMA+ provided the woman with material assistance, including hygienic goods and baby formula. The project staff also assisted Kristina in receiving a substance abuse treatment course which helped her retain stable remission from drugs. Due to MAMA+ support Kristina improved her life situation, and in a short while she was permitted by the hospital to take Matvey home.
MAMA+ staff also interacted with the client’s mother to improve the family situation and ensure the family support. Their efforts resulted in attaining legal grounds for Kristina to stay with her relatives at their housing and have her baby registered. A court trial was initiated to divide the ownership rights and arrears or rent between the family members. Nevertheless, the multi-year conflict in this family continued.
Presently, Kristina, her partner and her baby are living in a rented apartment. The woman’s partner has an unstable income source. The main source of financial support is his parents. Kristina was prescribed continuous ARV therapy. Once the woman interrupted the treatment without doctors’ permission. This had negative impact on her health status. MAMA+ staff were able to explain her the importance of continuous therapy intake.
Matvey has developmental delays resulted by neurological disorders. His mother brings him for medical consultations and physical therapy sessions. MAMA+ and other staff involved believe that his health status will improve by one year of age. Now he is eight and a half years old, and he rejoices at everything that surrounds him.
Maria, 40, has found herself in a difficult life situation.
At early stages of pregnancy, the woman contacted MAMA+ staff for support. She learned about the project at the City AIDS Center. She told to MAMA+ staff that she had had an HIV-positive status confirmed since 2003 and was on ARV therapy. In the past, she had experience of using drugs. Besides, she had a previous conviction. The woman was willing to give birth to children, but was in need of psychological and social support.
Having learned about Maria’s pregnancy, her partner left her, and her retired parents became her main and only income. While pregnant, the woman actively participated in training events on parenting and child development issues, received individual consultations on resolving psychological, social and legal concerns, complied with recommendations of the MAMA+ staff members, and took the therapy regularly. By the delivery, she had everything prepared for her children, including a crib and babies’ clothes.
In June, Maria gave birth to two wonderful daughters Katya and Ira. The girls were born prematurely, weighing 1,600 and 1,880 grams respectively, and were placed in a children’s hospital. Meanwhile, Maria was expecting an examination and a surgical operation on a uterine neck. At the examination, the doctors revealed focal points of TB infection, and the woman was hospitalized in the TB clinic.
Presently, Maria is taking a long-term course of treatment. Katya and Ira after gaining weight (2,300 and 2,600 grams respectively), were discharged from the children’s hospital and are now in care of their grandmother – Maria’s mother. She finds it hard nursing two children: they need special care, regular visits to medical specialists, physical therapy and special nutrition.
MAMA+ staff provide Maia’s mother with assistance nursing the girls, as well as support Maria. Katya and Ira are in acute need of special baby formula. As the girls were born prematurely, they are facing serious health problems.
Maria is looking forward to doctors’ permission to return home and stay with her children. The woman believes that she will get better, find employment, and all problems will be resolved. Meanwhile, MAMA+ staff members continue to provide the family with assistance.
Dear Friends, We would like to update you on the stories of our clients, as well as successes achieved by the staff of the MAMA+ Project due to your support.
Marina and KolyaThe MAMA+ project staff first encountered with Marina at the maternity hospital. The woman had given birth to a wonderful son who was named Kolya. At that moment Marina was keeping her diagnosis secret for her family members.
The woman phoned to the MAMA+ social worker shortly after her discharge from the hospital. The project staff found that she was keeping her HIV status undisclosed to her family, which made it difficult for her to explain her frequent visits to medical institutions with Kolya, as well as ARV therapy intake, to her relatives. During the project’s first visit to the family, the woman started to work actively with MAMA+ psychologist in order to accept and disclose her diagnosis. Marina was provided with consultations on the needs and developmental specifics of a child under one year of age. As she experienced deprivation of her parental rights to her first child in the past, she was afraid the situation would repeat and kept much in herself. In such a stressful situation, she began to abuse alcohol.
In a short while, the same happened to Marina’s baby Kolya. First, the child was placed in a hospital. Then, by agreement with the child protection agencies, Kolya was put in a babies’ home until his mother resolved her problems with alcohol abuse.MAMA+ and city social service staff joined their efforts to develop a plan of assistance for the client. Marina visited her son regularly, bringing baby formula and napkins.
Marina and her husband received a course of anti-alcohol therapy. Kolya’s father found official employment. The project staff assisted the family in collecting all the required documents for the child, and prepared a separate package to register for children’s allowances. Due to MAMA+ support, Marina was able to overcome her fears and disclose her diagnosis to her husband.
On April 29, 2014, the child was returned to the family from the babies’ home. Presently, Marina is attending the MAMA+ Center actively with Kolya. The family united in their fight for the child.
We are grateful to all GlobalGiving participants, as this is due to your support that we were able to strengthen this family and prevent orphanage placement of the child. The timely assistance, including the provision of baby formula, baby care supplies and other things, was crucial for this family in such a difficult period of their life.
We would like to update you on one more story and hope to support Anna and her family with your participation.
Anna and MityaIn April, + was contacted by a woman with a request to help her family. Anna, 33, is 32 weeks pregnant. Also, she has a son from her first marriage. The woman has past experience of injecting drug use, through which she contracted HIV. After her mother died several years ago, Anna stopped using drugs and began to plan a second child.
In February 2014, the family’s apartment was damaged by fire, and Anna with her child, her husband, and her husband’s parents are currently sharing a room in a residential hotel. Their damaged apartment needs renovating.
On May 27, 2014, Anna gave birth to her son Mitya. It was a premature birth, and the child is currently in the hospital under medical care and monitoring. The boy needs special feeding formula, treatment and continuous care.
The family is planning to renovate their apartment and move there after Mitya’s discharge from the hospital. Presently, the only breadwinner for this family is Anna’s husband. The family needs support in purchasing baby goods: a crib, a carriage, clothes, hygienic supplies, baby formula and medication.
Children’s Day at the MAMA+ Center DTC has a tradition of organizing events on the Children’s Day at the MAMA+ Counseling and Daycare Center. On June 4, volunteers of Estee Lauder’s brand •• participated in the holiday for mothers and children. Professional •• makeup designers told the women of the specifics of applying makeup and beauty care, as well as engaged them in a holiday makeup session. The young visitors of the MAMA+ Center were also involved. Using face paint, DTC volunteers transformed the children into fabulous beasts. Together with the volunteers, the kids drew portraits of their beautiful mothers, using real lipsticks and eye-shadow apart from water colors.
The holiday culminated in a short photo session and a tea party. The women were gifted M•A•C festive packages. Due to joint efforts of •• makeup designers and DTC volunteers, that summer day became a real beauty holiday for MAMA+ clients. We are happy to share pictures of this event with you.
We are pleased to tell you about improvements in the lives of our clients, which took place thanks to your participation, as well as present a new family enrolled in the MAMA+ Project in acute need of support.
Updates on our clients’ stories We have already told you about Zhanna and her son Artyom, as well as Anastasia and her little daughter Lyuda.Zhanna is still in the hospital, taking her treatment course. At the end of 2013, Artyom’s father obtained his parental rights, collected a package of documents and took the boy from the babies’ home. The child is currently living with his family. Due to timely preventive treatment, Artyom was not infected with HIV. This case is another confirmation of the fact that professional support is essential for a family in a difficult life situation.
Anastasia is still facing challenges. However, the main news about her is that her little Lyuda’s health status has stabilized. The mother is trying to maintain this status through timely escorts of her daughter to the doctor, massage therapy and care. Anastasia attends biweekly medical case conferences at the MAMA+ Counseling and Daycare Center.As we have mentioned above, a new family had enrolled in the MAMA+ Project: Varvara and her children Vera and Nikita.
Varvara, 25, is 20 weeks pregnant. She has two children: her daughter Vera one year and four months old, and her son Nikita four years old. Varvara learned about her HIV-positive status at a prenatal clinic during her third pregnancy. She was referred to the project by the AIDS Center. The woman contracted HIV from her partner after giving birth to her second child. Unaware of her HIV status, she used to breastfeed her daughter Vera. When the girl attained 18 months of age, she was tested HIV-positive and her diagnosis was confirmed. The project staff members provide support to the woman at this difficult period of her life, taking care of her daughter (they escort the woman to the AIDS Center, arrange medical examinations and tests for Vera, and provide her with special baby formula).The woman was examined and tested to select a therapy in account of her pregnancy. Presently, Varvara visits healthcare institutions, receiving preventive therapy. The father of her expected baby (her partner) does not provide the family with any support. Varvara is currently living with her children. The family’s quality of life is unsatisfactory. Varvara’s relatives do not support her because of her HIV status. When she was a girl, she was in care of her grandmother; her parents were deprived of their parental rights. Varvara’s grandmother lives too far from her and is unable to provide her with any support. Varvara cannot be employed as she is raising two young children and is currently pregnant. She lives in a small room of a communal apartment together with her children. She often clashes with her neighbors, with whom she is in conflict.Presently, Varvara is in need of a bassinet, a crib, babies’ clothes and other things, babies’ formula, and other goods of prime necessity.
I heard about MAMA+ center but I knew nothing about it before coming to "Doctors to children" organization. And I realize that this center is the only place, the only home you can go when you diagnosed with HIV and your life is ruined.
Imagine, you are a young woman, pregnant and left by your boyfriend. And accidentally you were diagnosed with HIV... What you should do? Where you should go? Who would you tell about your diagnose? Usually young women think their life is over and the only thing they can do is to abandon the child and leave him in orphanage. It is because medication from HIV is very expensive, because HIV means no job, no husband, no family, no life... In the world and in Russia particularly there still exist strong ban of people living with HIV, fear and stigma. Person HIV + is still abandoned by government and community. Imagine that situation when you have a baby... In other hand there are centers like MAMA+ for women HIV positive where they can get support and care, where they can be understands and helped.
In St.Petersburg there are several centers MAMA+ under care of "Doctors to children" organization. Its unique place for those who were abandoned and turned out in difficult life situation. MAMA+ has psychologists, social workers, qualified volunteers and facilities like kindergarden and social dormitory. Women can attend HIV school for mothers and learn how to take care of a baby being HIV+. The major thing of these groups is to help woman understand that she can be a mother no matter of her diagnose. To abandon the child and leave him in orphanage is not the right way. Its very important especially for Russia.
Nowadays MAMA+ centers work together with maternity welfare centeres in policlinics and hospitals to identify HIV+ women in difficult life situations and help them.
This experience is successfully replicated in another big city like Ekaterinburg.
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