Recently, a new family has been taken on MAMA+ Project supervision.
Project staff members first met with Zhanna several months ago, when she was six months pregnant. She was brought to the MAMA+ Center by her friend, a MAMA+ client.
Zhanna was alone and needed help. She was worried about herself and the future of her child.
Though resembling many other stories of MAMA+ clients, Zhanna’s story is unique.Over several years, she was injecting drugs. She contracted HIV while a drug-user. She was keeping her diagnosis secret. Zhanna lives in a communal apartment together with her mother whom she is in conflict with.
By the moment of MAMA+ enrollment, she had spoiled relations with her child’s father. As she was pregnant, she often used to take sick leave, which finally created serious financial problems.
+ staff provided Zhanna with consultations and psychological support. They assisted her in taking a maternity leave. They helped her prepare for the childbirth, provided her with babies’ clothes, a crib and a carriage.
“I was struck by the news that I was pregnant. I had no idea what I could do and if I could raise my child on my own. I’m grateful to my friend for telling me about the MAMA+ project. This is the only place where I can speak about my illness freely and be sure that I will always get help”, says Zhanna.
Her son Artyom was born on January 12, 2013. As he was born premature and needed medical assistance and additional care, Artyom was transferred to a children’s hospital in Leningrad region. In the maternity hospital, Zhanna was tested positive for TB. She was prescribed a course of treatment. Her apartment was subject to sanitation.
Presently, Artyom is placed in a babies’ home, as Zhanna had to leave him for a while until she had her health problems resolved. Artyom is visited by the project staff: they bring him diapers, milk formula and clothes. A TB patient, Zhanna cannot visit her son. She is taking treatment and renovating her room, looking forward to Artyom’s return. She has already taken first steps to have him back home: she has obtained Artyom’s birth certificate and registered him at their room. MAMA+ staff will assist Zhanna in registering for children’s allowances after the boy’s return. Meanwhile, the woman continues to receive the project assistance and attend peer support group sessions and seminars for clients at the MAMA+ Center.
This small family is currently facing hard times: Zhanna and her little son are in need of your support!
Valeria (27 years old, City of St. Petersburg) Valeria (Lera) was screened by Lyudmila Morozova, MAMA+ social worker, at one of St. Petersburg maternity hospitals. The woman confided that she had been using drugs. Her daughter Rita was born prematurely and transferred to a city children’s hospital. While in maternity hospital, Lera decided to abdicate her child, facing financial instability and receiving no support from her family members.
That time, she was living with her partner Andrey (Rita’s father). He had no permanent employment and was using drugs from time to time. He did not want a child. Her sister stopped any contacts with her after learning that Lera had began to use drugs and had HIV. Lera’s mother is an alcoholic. Her father died when she was 10.
When first contacted by MAMA+, Lera was emotionally unstable. She told about her problems which made her decide to abandon her child. The woman was offered psychological support and motivated to attend a substance abuse specialist. The project psychologist and social worker helped Lera realize she was willing to take her daughter back. Together with the project staff, Lera was visiting Rita in the hospital, bringing milk formula, diapers, and other this for the girl, and meeting with medical staff.
Meanwhile, MAMA+ staff members were working with Lera to develop parental model, as well as with her relatives to motivate them to take Rita to the family.
Lera took her daughter from the hospital. MAMA+ social worker assisted her in registering the girl with the Pediatrics Department of the City AIDS Center and the district children’s outpatient clinic. Lera hopes that the girl will remain healthy, because she was receiving preventive therapy during her pregnancy and delivery.
Together with her child, Lera visits the MAMA+ Daycare Center for consultations, parenting skills training, and peer support. The project social worker assisted the woman in obtaining children’s allowances.
The project interventions enabled Lera to stabilize her motional status and raise her self-esteem. Also, the woman obtained basic parenting skills. Due to the project support, she was able to improve relationships with her mother and sister.
She takes care of her daughter and loves her much. She wonders how she could abandon her child. Rita is now four months old. She is gaining weight, with first upper teeth appearing. The girl is growing up and developing very fast. Lera wants to get education and find a job to provide her daughter with everything she needs.
We hope everything will be alright with this family. But now both Lera and her daughter are in need of professional assistance and your support. We would like to thank you again for this opportunity to help children!
We are happy to announce that the MAMA+ Project has already raised more than $10,000 on the Global Giving site. It means that we have achieved our goal: thanks to your donations we have provided support to 100 HIV-affected babies in St. Petersburg since the beginning of the year.
We are very grateful to all people for their donations and for helping us to disseminate the information! Due to your participation HIV+ women and their young children are provided with child care supplies and milk formula, as well as psychological and social support. These reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission and increase the chances for the babies to stay in their birth families.
Thanks to your support DTC runs the MAMA+ Center that provides daycare services to 15 children under three years of age. It also hosts group and individual counseling sessions for women, their partners and other relatives on HIV, child development, parenting, child nutrition and other issues. Many women supported by MAMA+ staff have made remarkable progress as witnessed by the following client story.
Irina came to St. Petersburg from Norilsk, North Russia, shortly after finishing school. She entered the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics, St. Petersburg State University, and was doing well at first. Soon, she first tried drugs, and became so involved with it that she had to forget about her studies. The girl was expelled from the university. A former university student, she was convicted and imprisoned for the possession and use of drugs. In prison, Irina learned that she was HIV-positive.
Shortly after her release from prison, Irina got pregnant. When she gave birth to a child in May 2012, she found herself alone with no housing and no livelihood. In the maternity hospital, Irina was first encountered with MAMA+.
The project staff provided Irina and her little son Misha with temporary housing by placing them in a Halfway House. Due to the project support, Irina obtained an official status of a homeless person and registered for children’s allowances. MAMA+ psychologist helped her manage her drug-related problems, and she has been in remission for a long time now.
Irina began to visit the MAMA+ Counseling and Daycare Center regularly, participating in sessions of the School for Young Mothers where she obtained parenting skills and learned about the specifics of infant development. Little Misha was regularly brought to the MAMA+ Center, where he was examined by a pediatrician. MAMA+ psychologist and a recreational activities specialist engaged the boy in psychomotor developmental sessions and other activities to strengthen emotional contact between the mother and the son.
To date, Irina has found employment, which has enabled her to rent a room in a communal apartment and provide for herself and her baby. Irina and Misha continue to visit the MAMA+ Center, and the girl is making her first steps as a volunteer, assisting new MAMA+ clients to overcome difficulties and regain self-esteem.
Due to your assistance, we hope to continue MAMA+ Project implementation next year. In 2012, we expect to raise $10,000 for supporting 100 HIV-affected children.
Please consider telling your friends and family about our project - share the link on your blogs or social networks, use the tell-a-friend feature on the project page to email your network, or just bring us up in conversation. You know your friends and family best, so use your own words - tell them why you chose our project and what it means to you.
We will keep you informed about our work, providing you with our regular reports. You will know what your donation has helped fund, what accomplishments we have achieved and what our current needs are.
Doctors to Children,
The MAMA+ Project team
Another three months have passed by, and it is time to update you on the progress of the MAMA+ project in St. Petersburg. Thanks to your support, Doctors to Children has been able to provide 33 HIV-positive mothers and their babies with milk formula, child care supplies, psychosocial counseling and access to public services over the past quarter. Since the beginning of 2012, we have provided services to a total of 57 women with HIV and their children to prevent child abandonment and mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We would like to share with you some of their stories.
The mother of three children, Alyona learned about her HIV status four years ago before a kidney surgery. She was hard hit by this news, but was able to cope with it successfully. Shortly before she enrolled into MAMA+ in February, Alyona had given birth to a beautiful baby girl.
Since childhood, life was not easy for Alyona. When she was young, Alyona was abused by her father and, receiving no protection or support from her mother, she ran away from home. Alyona spent some time on the street, and she currently has very little recollection of that experience. Alyona does not like talking about whom she met with during that time, or what she had to do to survive. When she finally met her future husband, Alyona moved in with him.
Alyona and her husband have always tried the best to provide for their children. The emotional climate in the family, however, has not been very healthy. Alyona is frequently exposed to violence again, and this time it is psychological violence on the part of her husband, which adversely affects her and their children. Presently, the family is facing another problem: Alyona’s husband is suffering from a severe form of TB, while Alyona’s HIV makes her particularly vulnerable to the disease. Their large family is occupying two rooms in a communal apartment.
Together with MAMA+ staff, Alyona is working to improve the family’s living conditions. The MAMA+ psychologist is helping her raise self-esteem and improve relationships with her husband. Alyona regularly visits the MAMA+ Center to take part in peer support sessions and workshops, while her little daughter receives health exams and participates in development activities.
Alyona says she’s very grateful to the MAMA+ specialists, thanks to their support she overcame a very difficult period in her life.
Darya grew up in a large family. She had been in good relationships with her relatives until they learned about her HIV status. Since then, Darya has had nobody to rely on. Daria is raising two sons on her own. Her older son is five, and her younger son is just several months old. Their father abuses drugs and does not care for his children. Before giving birth to her second child, Darya had a job and rented a room in St. Petersburg. After she had had the baby, Darya lost her job and housing. She currently lives in the suburbs of St. Petersburg with her relatives who are not happy with her HIV.
Darya was referred to MAMA+ by the City AIDS Center as she needed emotional support and counseling. Together with MAMA+ staff, Darya has made a lot of progress: she has accepted her own HIV status and began to care both for her boys’ and her own health. The boys attend daycare at the MAMA+ Center, where they participate in development activities together with a child psychologist. When the children are in daycare, Darya has a chance to file for children’s allowances, visit the AIDS Center, apply for government daycare, and look for a job.
Darya says, “At the MAMA+ Center, I received what my family refused to provide: warm-heartedness of the staff, their emotional support and care. This helped me believe in myself. Now I am doing my best raising my sons. The MAMA+ psychologist is helping improve our relationships with my mother. Thinking for the future, I am sure all of my dreams will come true!”
Over the summer, MAMA+ clients also participated in two exciting events organized by DTC’s corporate partners: a vocation orientation workshop by Radisson Royal Hotel St. Petersburg, and a beauty session by M•A•C Cosmetics make-up artists.
Vocational Orientation Workshop by Radisson Royal Hotel St. Petersburg
On June 28, Radisson Royal Hotel St. Petersburg organized a vocational orientation workshop for five MAMA+ clients. The women received a tour around the hotel, while Radisson staff described the jobs in the hospitality business, and Radisson’s corporate culture. Under the supervision of hotel staff, the workshop participants had an opportunity to try themselves in the roles of housemaids making a bed, cleaning a room and preparing coffee. The housekeeping staff described their responsibilities, challenges and advantages of working at Radisson.
At the end of the workshop, participants met with the hotel’s General Manager John Lozasso. Mr. Lozasso invited the women to apply for open positions at Radisson when they become available, and expressed his support to continuing collaboration with Doctors to Children.
Beauty Session by M•A•C Cosmetics Make-Up Artists
On July 4, four make-up artists from M•A•C Cosmetics paid their traditional visit to MAMA+. This time they visited with 12 clients at the MAMA+ Center. The beauticians advised the women on make-up and skin care for different skin types during pregnancy and after delivery, and shared secrets of effective home-made facial masks. Then M•A•C staff conducted a professional make-up session meeting individual women’s needs, from an evening party to casual everyday make-up. The day finished with a tea party and fruit, which are also essential for healthy-looking skin. MAMA+ participants were very glad to receive little presents of professional M•A•C products.
M•A•C Cosmetics, which is part of Estee Lauder Companies, has been a long-time supporter of DTC projects for women and children affected by HIV. In addition to the financial support through the M•A•C AIDS Fund, M•A•C staff have been regularly volunteering their time to provide beauty sessions to clients at the MAMA+ Halfway House and Daycare center.
On behalf of MAMA+ clients and their babies, I thank you again for your generous support. Doctors to Children looks forward to sharing more news from MAMA+.
Roman Yorick, MD, MPH
Dear Friends and Supporters,
In April, a new MAMA+ Center in St. Petersburg opened its doors for HIV-positive women, their young children and family members.The new facility provides daily care for 15 children under three years of age. It also hosts group and individual counseling sessions for women, their partners and parents on HIV, child development, parenting, child nutrition and other issues. While their children are in daycare, the women are able to work or study, visit government offices, or receive medical services. With the increased birthrate in Russia in recent years, daycare placements for children over 18 months of age are in short supply, and for those under 18 months and born to HIV-positive mothers such placements are not available. Therefore, the new MAMA+ Center provide crucial assistance to HIV-affected families in caring for their babies.
The Center hosts regular peer support sessions to encourage women, build their self-esteem, help them accept their HIV status and develop adherence to anti-retroviral treatment. Former clients serve as peer counselors sharing their experience in overcoming challenges.
Support through GlobalGiving from donors like you help DTC run the MAMA+ Center. The children here are supplied with milk formula and diapers; families in need receive food packages, in addition to psychosocial counseling, vocational orientation and referral. Your assistance enabled us to provide support to 40 HIV-positive women with young children since the beginning of the year. Many of them have made remarkable progress as witnessed by the following client story.
Born in a small village of Novgorod region near St. Petersburg, Xenia came to the City several years ago to work. In St. Petersburg, she initially lived with her mother and aunt. Despite her efforts, Xenia was unable to find a job. In a short while, Xenia met Andrey, and moved in with him. Though not married officially, they now have two children – a six-year old, and a two-month old.
During her second pregnancy, Xenia was tested HIV-positive. Having no information about the disease, she was too scared to tell her family. As her mother and aunt eventually found out about her diagnosis, they insisted on Xenia abandoning her second child and stopped any contact with her. By that time Andrey relapsed to the use drugs, lost his job, and the family was left without any sources of income. Besides, he was no support to Xenia in taking care of their children.
With neither family support nor material assistance to pay for housing and milk formula for the baby, Xenia thought the only way out was abandoning her child. In this crisis situation, she contacted the MAMA+ Project she had learned about from a social worker while at the maternity hospital.
MAMA+ provided Xenia with material support, including milk formula and child care supplies, and helped her register the baby with a children’s clinic and the AIDS Center. Thanks to the assistance from the MAMA+ psychologist, Xenia was enabled to improve her self-esteem, accept the diagnosis, and manage the conflict with her family. The project support encouraged her to keep her baby in the family.
Presently, Xenia continues to attend peer support group sessions at the MAMA+ Center, as well as specialized sessions devoted to parenting and development of children born to HIV-positive mothers.
This is the third such center that DTC has helped establish in St. Petersburg since the start of the MAMA+ project in 2004; another three centers were opened with DTC support in 2012 in the cities of Yekaterinburg and Orenburg. All MAMA+ Centers are joint government-NGO operations built on the model established by DTC and HealthRight International.
On behalf of our clients and their babies, I would like to thank you for your generous contribution to improving their lives.
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