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Aug 3, 2018

My hidden shame

My name is Lakshmi*. I am 35 years old and live in the mid-west of Nepal. Ten years ago my husband got very sick, I brought him to the hospital where the doctor did all sorts of tests, among them was an HIV test.

This came out positive, the doctor then wanted to test me and my test was also positive too. We were shocked and fearful and told no one. We had no idea what to do, so we did nothing. My husband’s health continued to deteriorate and he died.

I was alone in the world and had to leave the house that we had lived in. I moved back in with my parents. I did not tell them about the HIV diagnosis. I stayed with them for 9 years, then, one day I suddenly I got very sick.

My brother took me to the hospital . A doctor did all sorts of test on me, including HIV, I already knew I was positive, but did not dare to tell them. The doctor then sent us all the way to Kathmandu to do more tests and to get ART** treatment.

In the hospital we met the AIDSLink staff. They were very helpful, counselling me about HIV and AIDS and ART treatment, explaining the results of various tests and showing me where I needed to go in the hospital.

We had no where to stay in Kathmandu and they took us to their Care Centre where they provided a good service and made us very welcome. I have learnt many things about HIV that I never knew before and I am feeling well. For the last ten years I have been hopeless, fearful, weak and full of shame. Now hope for the future has returned to my life.

*Name changed.

** ART: anti-retroviral treatment for HIV.

Aug 3, 2018

A young boy' health and confidence gets a boost.

In the afterschool programme we help children who have been identified by social services as highly vulnerable by providing lunch, fruit and a nutritional milkshake (Nucleo) four afternoons a week, and handing out food parcels every week.

By getting these regular meals and extras, we see the children grow not only physically, but also in their school results, socially and emotionally.

In the long term we want to see the children grow to be adults who can provide for themselves and their families, being the light in the community without being limited by their health and abilities. That way they can make an impact in their families and communities, and reach out to others that need help.

Thuso* is one of the children who attends the afterschool programme. He lost his mother due to AIDS related diseases and he is also HIV positive. He started the program as a shy young boy with a skin condition.

He drinks Nucleo every time he comes to the center and there’s a big difference in his skin and physical appearance, plus he now has a lot of confidence and talks a lot! He keeps on drinking Nucleo because he knows that its good for his health.

He doesn’t yet know that he is HIV positive or that the lady who he is staying with is not his real mother. We are working together with his family so that he and his siblings will be told the truth in the right way at the right time. His situation is not unique, unfortunately it is typical of many of the children and families that we are helping.

* Name changed

Aug 3, 2018

Keeping School Children Healthy

The school at Lake Tanganyika is usually humming with noise from the children. The students at our school enjoy learning in their classrooms, eating 2 meals a day, and attending after school programs which include sports and skill sessions among other things.

All 200 children attending our school come from the villages surrounding Mpulungu and are considered vulnerable. One of the effects of being a vulnerable child in Mpulungu is having very little access to decent medical care.

Thankfully, we now have a nurse working in our clinic who can see and treat all of the students. Our nurse deals with anything from malaria (which is very common) to wounds that the students get from playing sports, to common colds and stomach aches. This means that our students don’t have to worry about what will happen if they feel sick or get hurt playing soccer; they know that they will be taken care of at school, which gives them the freedom to learn.

Our nurse is also aware of the students who are HIV positive. This allows her to take special care when treating them for a seemingly small illness that could become a bigger problem if someone is positive.

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