Celebrating Birthdays for the project children is a regular monthly activity at Buds of Christ's NALAM Child Development Centre. The reason we adapted this model to Celebrate Birthdays are, most children have lost either one or both parents to the chronic illness, secondly they have never celebrated birthdays in their lives, thirdly the sickness and the daily intake of reteroviral drugs makes children dull and depressed as to why I have to go through this.
But when its a day of Birthday Celebration at our center, children are more thrilled to come to our center to celebrate their birthdays. Usually the Celebration is filled with some painting or craft activities, songs and dances, games and sumptuous lunch. Then all the children, caretakers and volunteers join together cut cakes, sing birthday song and present them their birthday gifts. Thus the day is filled with lots of love and laughter that helps them to overcome the dullness and have a memorable moment for their life time.
We thank the supporters at GlobalGiving who has enabled us to create such moments for the most needy children.
Buds of Christ dedicate the month of March to celebrate our widow mothers and grandmothers breakthrough journeys of Hope and Confidence in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
In Salem district, this has been the first women’s day celebration for women and was organized on 8th March 2021. Around 30 women participated in the event and most comprised of widow mothers and grand mothers who take care of children living with HIV. The event started with women sharing their uniqueness which ranged across various fields like sewing, traditional snack preparations, beautician, basket weaving etc. Then Mr. Jeyapaul, Director of Buds of Christ shared about the centre programmes. Then Ms. Sangeetha who had shared her life journey of living with HIV followed it. She also shared about the important decisions she had taken in her life to build a brighter future for her daughters and that had needed courage and risk taking. With just 8th grade in education and 19 years old, she lost her husband to HIV leaving. She was left with her two small daughters to be cared. She took the risk of moving out of the village to work with Buds of Christ and now she is proud to see her elder daughter pursuing her post graduate degree and her second daughter pursuing her graduation at the Salem University. Her life journey of success was a motivation to many women gathered at the event. Then Dr. Rani, Medical doctor shared about the importance of Nutrition and reproductive health of women and the day ended with a good lunch.
At Tiruchengode, Namakkal district the women’s day cerebration was organized on 12th March 2021 and is the fifth year of celebration. The programme started with the introduction of the theme of the women’s day followed by the centre’s roles in the empowerment of children and women. Then Ms. Mary Latha, District Programme Manager-In charge of Dist AIDS Prevention and Control Unit, Namakkal district encouraged the audience with her motivational talk. This was followed by a session on nutrition by Ms. Shalini a young woman living with HIV and staff of the centre. Then a competitive event for women was organized to display their skill in preparing traditional snacks. Many mothers and grandmother displayed their expertise in preparing variety nutrient rich snacks. Each woman presented her prepared snack and also shared the nutrient content and the functions of it that revealed the learning they have gained through various sessions on health from the centre. The best 7 recipes were rewarded. Two women (one widow mother and another grandmother) shared their life testimonies and that encouraged the women to lead a life with hope and confidence. The day ended with a grand lunch.
Buds of Christ was encouraged to witness the progress the widow mothers have made through the programmes of the center along with their children’s growth and development. The different levels of empowerment from physical health to emotional to economic independence have helped them to provide a better future for themselves and their children. We at Buds of Christ salute these women and celebrate their success journey.
It has been almost a year for the younger children between the age group of 6 and 12 years to come together as group for learning about their health and also to play and do activities together in a group. The first meeting for the year 2021 was organized on 18th February and 9 children participated along with their care takers. The support groups have been very effective in building hope and also remove fears about HIV as they find the space safe and supportive.
The sessions for the children have been planned based on the 50 indicators that has been developed on topics related to HIV information, understanding health monitoring indicators, hygiene, life skills, adherence to treatment and positive prevention. The indicators have been developed with the involvement of young people living with HIV who have been part of the centre from their school age.
The first session included group games to build a bonding among themselves and their care takers. The health topics covered were on Personal Hygiene and its benefits and basics of nutrition. The sessions were handled by the youth volunteers of the centre. A life skill session on self awareness was also conducted on that day.
The children enjoyed the time together; especially the games .The learning was easier as it involved activity based sessions and also the support of the care taker. The most interesting one that captivated the children was the hand print that each child enjoyed and shared about it till the end of the day.
A newly enrolled child (Elakiya, 11 year old girl ) living with her widowed mother was initially scared to come to the centre as she thought it was hostel for children, but at the end of the day she was very happy and enthusiastic; and she expressed she wanted to come more frequently.
For 8 year old girl Anu (who has lost both her parents), it was an exciting moment to come out with her grandmother and meet her friends and play games and craft time together .
We thank all our well wishers who have helped us to organize the group meetings and encourage children living with HIV lead a happy and productive life.
Priya is the second child in the family of three living in a village in Salem district. She lives with her widowed mother and her elder sister. Her father who was a lorry driver passed away 10 years before and she was four years old. Her mother knew about her status, when she was pregnant with Priya, but did not take it very seriously. Though all of them were tested, except her elder sister, they did not start any treatment against HIV. Then after her father’s death, the family was tested again and Priya was very sick and so she was advised for treatment. She used to suffer from Ear infection repeatedly and that caused lesions from her ears. This affected her hearing. After Priya’s father’s death, her mother started to go for work as a daily wageworker in a snack-manufacturing unit. With the income, the family has been a leading a tough life of meeting the family needs and educational needs of the children.In the end of year 2019, Priya studying in 10th was affected by a viral fever in December and was sick for nearly a month. She was hospitalized and then been at home for more than a month and that affected her attendance to school. In addition, due to hearing problem she was not able to attend the classes properly and found the environment very negative. She was least interested to go to school and always found reasons to be away from school. This worried her mother.
At the same time Priya used to enjoy all the group sessions for children at Buds of Christ and always was very active and regular. This surprised her mother and at the same time made her also feel happier about her daughter’s interest with the group. She was very good at making crafts, joining dance and also interacting well with the younger children.
Now during this Covid-19 lock down period, she is enjoying the most, as there is no school. But at the same time, in this time she has been able to show her skill in basket making which she has learnt during these holidays from her mother and is able to make one basket in a day. The basket weaving is fetching an additional income to the family. She has also started taking responsibility in boosting her immunity and her mother and sister’s health by preparing Moringai (drumstick leaves) soup for the whole family every day. She says that “the secret to my health and energy is the Moringai soup” and encourages other children in the neighborhood to also drink it. She makes a huge fuss in eating green leafy vegetables, but the leaves in the form of soup have appealed her too. This she had learnt from one of the sessions in the little stars group. The follow-up by phone call by the staff on assessing their knowledge level on nutrition has further motivated her to do it. She now spends her morning time, along with the basket making is teaching small children in the age group of 5 years English and Tamil alphabets. Her elder sister is handling Maths classes for 10th standard children in the neighborhood, but says “the small children love Priya and listens to her instructions, they write and then play together”.
This has also made us, as a team at Buds of Christ to identify the talents and skills within the children who are not able to perform in normal school system, but have inherent skills that would make them productive and independent. Priya is one of the examples we have been able to witness during this lockdown and happy she has found a way to handle the lockdown phase. Thanks for the GlobalGiving donors, who provide the support consistently even during the Covid-19 challenges.
The Covid-19 Pandemic is affecting many at a large level and here in the care and support programme of Buds of Christ, the focus of work in the last two months have been in providing with right information, providing masks to stop the spread of the virus and provision of the essential items to maintain good health of children and their care takers. As most of the care-takers, widowed women and grand parents work as daily wages laborers; the lock down measures of the government to control the spread of pandemic had heavily affected the income of the family. The fear about the virus was also prevalent that affected the confidence of our children and young people. Buds of Christ first raised correct awareness about the Covid-19 to the young volunteers and leaders of the organization and also the ways to protect themselves from the infection through online meetings and personal calls. Nutritional packages were distributed to 105 families in the last two months with the support of volunteers, and the small children shared field staffs and the testimonies of hope and joy over the support.
One widow mother having a 12 year old son also living with HIV and working as daily wage worker expressed that the support helped them to maintain the health of her son and herself. As the lock down was announced suddenly she was not prepared and did not have money to buy the essentials. The support has helped them greatly during the lock down period.
We did not have any money, nor food items at home. As there was no transport facility we could not go out anywhere, but thanks to the volunteer who delivered the nutritional package this has helped me to prepare food and support my granddaughters said aged grand mother of two little orphan girls
I could not go for work, my income supports my aged mother and my daughter. But due to lock down, there was no income. This nutritional package was a great boon and more happier, when the volunteer came home and delivered it. - widow mother living with HIV
Looking at the news and some of the information shared through social media I was so scared but now after the session I got clarity and now I am able to even educate my family too – a volunteer after the training session on zoom on managing Covid-19
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