Children
 India
Project #11254

Care and Support 50 Orphan Adols with HIV in India

by Buds of Christ Charitable Trust
Vetted

20 young adolescents who access the hospital for treatment are brought together as a support group every month at the Government treatment centre. Often these children, come alone or with their care takers to collect their medications that are offered free of cost at the government hospital, but they also carry a lot of questions along with fear and stigma which often is unaddressed. It is for these reasons the support groups have been started with good support from the medical team.

The young people were first asked to write few lines about a pin that was placed in front of them. They could bring about 5 to six sentences each and then the trainer collected all the information from the group which totalled to about 20 different qualities a pin could be used. Then each child was asked to reflect, how we are made unique and how each of us have special qualities that is special to us. The key message insisted was “If an ordinary pin could bring in so many qualities and use, how much more we as human beings can do with our potential”.

This was further reinforced through a glass demonstration exercise. This helped the young people understand that the physical area of the glass cannot determine, the number of pins that can go inside the tumbler, in the same way each of us have potential that often have left unmeasured and limited by the circumstances and challenges around each one of them.

Following the exercise, each adolescent was asked to share how they have felt personally and for most of them who were surprised at the fact, how much as an individual each can do more than what each thinks.

"I was caught by surprise, because i thought only 5 pins could get into the tumbler and the water might spill over, but later I saw more pins could be accommodated. It made me also realize, that I should not think about the problems and challenges I am going through now, I can do more than what I am doing" - expressed by an orphan adolescent girl

“I was very happy to realise, that I am unique and if a pin can have more than 20 qualities, I also can have more qualities within me."-expressed by an orphan boy

The support group meetings are organised every month for the HIV positive adolescents administering them with treatment literacy and life skills.

The harvest festival popularly known as Pongal in Tamilnadu is the festival that is celebrated in honouring the farmers. Being an agriculture dependent country, it is still, particularly in rural areas an important day for the people. Even in Buds of Christ, the care takers of the children with whom we work are dependent on agriculture as their major source of income.

The pongal day  was celebrated at Buds of Christ with the children, their siblings and the care takers. The occasion was used as a platform to strengthen the bonding among the children, care takers and their siblings. The Young people were dressed in their traditional outfits to mark the occasion. The children and the care takers had decorated the place with the traditional rangoli's and set the cooking place with mud pot decorated with sugar cane

A presentation on the lives of farmers and the meaning of pongal was shared at the meeting. Following that, the cooking of pongal was made in a traditional pot setting and group games for various age groups were conducted simultaneously. The best moment of the day was shouting "pongalo pongal" by children and care takers, marking the pongal is cooked.

The day ended with everybody eating sugar cane and the sweet pongal.

An orphan child shared “I enjoyed the Pongal celebrations very much and it was like my family occasion”

A care taker (grandmother of an orphan child) – “I have celebrated many pongal festival, but here at Buds meeting other children, being part of the cooking and decorations was an enjoyable process. I even felt much younger, when my team won the rope -pulling game”.

This year the theme of the World AIDS day was Getting to Zero and we at Buds believe this can happen when the already affected people are also encouraged and motivated to live a positive life.

Buds of Christ commemorated the 2015 world AIDS day in encouraging young adolescents in salem and smaller children in Tiruchengode along with care takers to be confident and live a life with hope and dignity. The uniqueness of this year programme was the young people living with HIV and affected by HIV of Buds of Christ (Buds Leaders) had planned and executed the event.

The programme was conducted on 5th of Dec at Salem and 12th of Dec 2015 at Tiruchengode. In the salem group the 20 participants were mostly young adolescents in the age group of 14 and above and at Tiruchengode, the 15 smaller children were in the age group of 5 and 12 years old. Both the programmes were organised at government Hospital ART centres. The programme included a choreo, skit, drawing competition, testimonial and a motivational song. The key highlight was the testimonial sharing by the care-taker (woman living with HIV) and her child. Though it brought in a emotional outburst among the participants, the end-result was that it encouraged both the children and the care takers to look at their own lives more positively.

The feed -back were;

"Having born with HIV, I thought I was the only one facing lot of struggles and had no interest in life. But today I felt, yes there are many like me who go through such situations in their lives and yet they are moving on and so hereafter i will be very regular on medications and will look at life more positively"- expressed by 17 year old orphan girl who is now on second line ARV

"I always was living with the fear and sometimes question myself why should I live with this highly stigmatised disease, but today when Selvi akka, mother of an HIV positive son shared her feelings and how in-spite of the struggles she continues to take care of her son living with HIV has inspired me to take care of myself and my child who is living with HIV"- widow mother(care taker) of a 7 year old child living with HIV

"I liked the song", never give-up" (tamil song). It made me feel good"- expressed 6 year old HIV positive boy

HIV has affected everybody in my family, my husband, my two girls and me. Yet, my husband does not bother and has left us alone to live with another family in another village. After my HIV status, in addition to being a mother, I have been the bread-winner and I had to go for coolie work in the feild to support my daughters. In addition I also constructed our house with the help of my daughters and I even had to become a construction worker. Today, when shalini's mother was sharing, it helped me to realise the strength I have had within me in passing through these challenges. If her mother can bring up her three daughters, I too can bring up my daughters in the best way I can”. - Proud HIV positive mother of her daughter winning the first place in the drawing competition.

Medical Officer addressing on living positively
Medical Officer addressing on living positively

Siva, the newspaper boy aspires to become a Tamil teacher and support his sibling sister in the future.

Siva is 17 years old and he is in his first year college with Tamil as the main subject. Six years before, he was found by Buds of Christ as a neglected child referred by the Govt Hospital. He was shabbily dressed and weak. He had no interest in his studies and had no aim for his future.

Siva is the first child and his sibling sister (12 years) became orphans when both their parents died to a chronic disease 7 years back. Both these children have also been affected by the illness from their parents. As Siva' s sister's immunity was very less, she was started early on treatment, but Siva did not have any idea about his health status.

After their parent's death, both Siva and his sister had to move to two different families, i.e. their father's sisters who came forward to look after them. The care was less for both Siva and his sister, but Siva's sister was in a much worse condition. When she was in class 5th, she lost interest in studies and her aunt encouraged her to beg for money. When this issue was observed during a field visit by Buds of Christ to their home, she was rescued from her aunt and sent to the hostel for girls and is now doing her class 7th in a government school.

And Siva when he was in his class 8th, he was advised for treatment for his health condition. He took the medication casually, not understanding its consequences. There was nobody in the family to guide him, nor show concern. It was then he started attending support group meetings held at Buds of Christ. Even there he was very playful and it took him almost two years to understand the condition. Slowly after meeting and interacting with peers like him he started building hope for his future. He cleared his 10th and 12th grade and got admission into a BA degree course.

He is now very positive about his health and aims to complete his education to become a Tamil teacher. He also works on part-time as a newspaper delivery boy to save an income and also buy special things for his sister during his visit to the hostel. Siva is an inspiration to his peers at Buds of Christ and he loves joking around with them.

 

The support group meeting for adolescents living with HIV is organised every first saturday at Government Hospital. The center not only caters to young people from the district but serves as a point of care for adoelscents from the neighbouring districts. Understanding the need for adolescent focussed intervention Buds of Christ with the support from the ART center has been organising support groups to help young people live healthy and productive lives.

It has been a greater challenge to bring the adolescents together, as the ART center was seen only as a center to access medicines. The young people had no opportunity to interact with each other and the stigma of HIV and restrictions of the care takers(mostly grand-parents) had not allowed them to talk about it. With the support group being initiated, the young people have started showing active involvement through the participatory exercises. This month the exercise was on boosting their self esteem. In the pre-assessment it was noted that most of them had a low self image about themselves, due to side effects of ARV and low immunity status. But through the exercise, the positive qualities of each one was shared by the peers and was reinstated with the thought that each one is unique and have special qualities.

"I have always felt I was short and weak and unworthy, but here when the friends in the group appreciated me, I felt very good" - expressed an adolescent boy

Following this, the young people were taken through an exercise of setting personal goals in health and education and how as a support group they can support one another through a team building game, making the paper tower. The four points that was reinforced for the participants were planning, sharing their plan and finding support from one another, implementing and evaluating .This helped the participants to set their health goals and education goals.

Recent case study

Ms. Anita (name changed),17 years old, was born living with HIV, Her parents died when she was very young and has been cares by her grandmother. She came to know about her HIV status only when she was in her 11th standard i.e.16 years old. Though she has been on medication earlier, her grand-mother could not express the health status nor the medication properly and that has caused resistance. Now she is on second line medication. She is attending the meeting for the last two month and have found inspiration from the peer leader, Shalini from Buds of Christ who supports in the monthly support group meeting.

 

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Organization Information

Buds of Christ Charitable Trust

Location: Namakkal District, Tamilnadu - India
Website: http:/​/​www.budsofchrist.org
Project Leader:
Jeyapaul Sunder Singh
Namakkal District, India
$8,172 raised of $22,940 goal
 
65 donations
$14,768 to go
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