We Salute Karthik
Karthik, is now 22 years living with HIV is an inspiration that many of us can learn.
Karthik is the only one living with HIV in his family. He was 12 years old, when he came to know about his HIV status. It was a shattering moment for him, because he had not heard about HIV until he was tested in a private hospital and was then referred to the government hospital for free treatment.
Karthik 's life was around bricks and mud, as his family was one of the families of bonded labor in the brick -making industry. Being the second and the only male child in the family, his parents had great hopes on him. He was smart in his academics and a good orator. Life was smooth, until HIV status was known.
The only cause he could attribute to his HIV infection was when he was given an injection in a local clinic, where the needle was not sterilized. He recollects that his painful moment was not the knowledge of his HIV status, but the questions the Govt hospital counselor asked especially around his sexual behaviors.
He expressed that "They did not see me as a 12 year old child, but instead questioned me as if they were interrogating a criminal and that was the day I hated myself. It was my mother who comforted and was always awake as she was scared I might kill myself".
Within few months of his diagnosis, the field worker of Buds of Christ met Karthik and motivated him to join the support group for children living with HIV; he found self-worth and gained confidence in himself. But later the side effects of the ARV medication caused growth in his chest region, which again caused him to discontinue schooling.
He was encouraged by Buds of Christ to pursue course in computers and designing and worked as a volunteer with our center. Now he has joined a photo studio and is working as a photographer and a designer. It was a proud moment for us when he recently made a contribution of INR. 10,000/- (USD 180 approx) towards land purchasing for “Buds Adolescent Learning Center” and expressed "I have received a lot and now it is my time to give back so that many more children like me will be blessed"
We thank you donors, for helping us to empower orphan children with vocational skills that would give them a better future.
A- two day photography training was conducted for young people of Buds of Christ to equip them with basic skills in photography. The training was a practical based training conducted by the Singapore Volunteers Jamie, which the young people thoroughly enjoyed.
She used different techniques to teach the nuances in the photo taking which rendered even an amateur person to take photos with deeper meaning.
The practical experience and reviewing of the photographs taken helped the young people to improve their skills which were beautifully reflected on the second day of the training session. The youngest participant of the training was 13 year old child of the center.
When my photos were reviewed on the first day, it helped me to notice the area of improvements and I was happy I was appreciated on the photos taken on the second day…. expressed by an adolescent girl after the workshop
When I was given a camera to handle, I was scared, but later I gained confidence as my team partner encouraged me, and I was so happy when the photos were projected, I could not believe it was mine.-expressed by 16 year old orphan drop out boy.
It’s a humble beginning, but it really meets the crucial needs of orphaned children dropped out from school due to failure in exams. Started from the month of June 2014, Buds Vocational Open School (BVOS) has inspired and motivated young minds to set higher goals for their life. Now the children are able to understand that failure is not the end of their life’s destiny but that same failure can become a beginning point for a new ambition in life.
Elamurugan,15 years, orphan and living with life long illness has joined Buds Vocational Open school. Though he was doing his 10th standard this year, he found the lessons too pressurising and stopped attending school. As we found young people who have dropped out of school taking very risky decisions, Elamurugan was given an option to attend Buds Open school. For the last 2 months, he has been attending the school. Special coaching is given by the tutors in the subjects along with support and motivation from other senior adolescents who have passed out and joined college, so that he can get back to the mainstream next year.
BVOS objective is to empower orphan children like Elamurugan who have shown low proficiency in normal stream of education which causes low self esteem. BVOS addresses this issue thorugh participatory and practical based alternate form of education. Your support and donation to this school is much valued and we strive to provide the best individual care and mentorship to orphan children thereby empowering them to live life with dignity.
I am also going to Buds School
With the advancements in HIV care, treatment is available, but beyond treatment there is a need for individual care, especially for children as the impact it causes on them is very severe.
Recently the second support group for children was started at Tiruchengode ART center, Namakkal district. Being a new group, introductory session was conducted, where each one shares their name, class(educational status) and the village they belong . what caught our attention was one girl child in the group who was very thin and puny , introduced her name in a very feeble voice and said she had not been going to school for the last two years. She sounded very dull as all the other peers in her group were attending school.
After the session ,we had a personal interaction with her and her father. In that interaction we found she lives with her widower father living with HIV. Her mother died when she was 8 years old and she has one older brother and sister. Two years before she became very sick of TB and that restricted her from going to school which was 3kms away from her house. As her father was not well informed and could not provide good care, she had a relapse of TB within a year and had to continue treatment for another course of year. Though the treatment is now stopped ,her immunity is very low.
To know more about her, home visit was made by our outreach staff and there it was found she had no friends as she was sick and not in school. Her elder brother is working and her elder sister good in studies goes to her aunt's house to do her daily lessons and returns home only after 8 pm as they do not have electricity in their house. So she is only one at home every day until 8 pm .
When she was told about the Buds vocational school, where she can come and learn the basic computer skills and language lesson ,she showed great interest to attend. Though ,there is still a difficulty in her coming to the center ,the motivation of attending school is deep within her and that she had shared with her older sister that "I am also going to Buds school", when she asked her for the school bag which was gifted at the support group.
In order to keep the motivation, close follow-up is maintained by the team at Buds with few drawing materials and colours given to her .The story books from the Buds Library has been shared and school kits-Bag and note books have been given to her. Now currently she is on ART treatment which she has become more regular after the home visit. Her current CD4 cells (immunity power cells) is only 75 (normal ranges from 500-1000cells).
This girl has been encouraged to make a responsible choice on her health with individual focused follow-up. This has been possible with the support of the Tiruchengode ART center for showing great interest in the welfare of the children accessing ART center and open the space for children support groups.
Buds Vocational Open School, is open for children who have been dropped out from school, or failed in normal streams; the objective is to equip them with practical day to day skills and knowledge that would keep enable them towards an empowered life along with their peers. We encourage these children to continue studies and write public exams in private mode.
2014 April and May month were summer holidays for all school going children in our community. Around 6 orphan children took a commitment to make use of the summer holidays to upgrade their skills in organizing themselves, learning computer, typewriting practice, English language and in understanding our work at Buds of Christ in serving other needy children.
Every day begins with a 10min planning time, followed by practicing typewriting skills in English and Tamil. Following that children will be given time to practice the spoken English sessions among themselves with the support of a tutor. One of our staff equips the children in learning basic computer skills on MS office, copying photos from camera to computer, scanning, printing, sending emails and searching information on Google.
“I am glad that I made the decision to come and learn; if not, I would have wasted my time and engaged just in killing the time at home before TV – expressed 14 year old orphan girl”
“These skills that I have learnt here will be of use for my entire life, and I strongly feel every child should go through these practical skills useful for life – said 16 year old orphan boy”
From this June 2014, Buds of Christ has started these skill building sessions with 3 days class per week, for orphan children failed in class 10 public exams and other school drop outs.
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