Siva and Manoj 'we just want our new school books'
Siva sent an urgent message: “My brother Manoj and I have run out of tablets.” These orphan brothers had been in a hostel but the government closed it due to Covid 19. Then all public transport stopped. Siva (15) and Manoj (16) are now stranded with their aged grandma in her tiny hut. We have supplied their tablets and the three of them scrape by on government handouts and some help from us. Now the boys have another big worry: “We can’t go to our old school for new school books! How will we study?”
India is hard hit with Coronavirus which has brought new challenges. Siva and Manoj’s story shows two of them. Towards the end of March complete lock-down was suddenly announced. Initially nothing was allowed on the roads and our first worry was to get life saving tablets to kids with HIV.
The HIV networks successfully lobbied for tablets to be available at all the local health centres. In the six districts where we work volunteers contacted guardians by phone to remind about tablets, advise about coronavirus and offer support. Many of those with difficulties were single mothers without family backing, or relations caring for orphaned children. Since April we have made over 400 home deliveries of tablets for children and guardians.
In April we contacted 713 personally or by phone and ensured tablet supply. We could not immediately contact 216 children: we now know we must get two telephone numbers for each child. Since there is still no public transport most work has to be done over the phone. Vital tests, and other treatment for sick children, are suspended and tuberculosis goes undiagnosed.
We are still trying to persuade 20 children (mostly teen boys) to take treatment. Our brave volunteers from positive women’s networks have done well. Nearly all our HIV positive children are now getting their all-important tablets. But we are concerned that 24 have migrated or are untraceable, and five are newly refusing treatment through lack of counselling.
We have persuaded schools to give out spare textbooks to stranded children and now Siva and Manoj have their books and can watch the classes on television at a friendly neighbour’s house. Our priority in the coming month is to make sure kids don’t miss out on education. Not all of them have such friendly neighbours.
These vulnerable children and their guardians now have to cope with both the world’s current pandemics, and the economic, social and educational disruption. Children and adults with HIV can be very ill with Covid 19. Your support allows us to address all these aspects as best we can.
Thanks again for your continued support in these difficult times, please stay safe wherever you are, with best wishes,
Siva and Manoj before their mum died 5 years ago