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.
Roman Yorick, MD, MPH
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