Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova

by Speranta Terrei
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Support 150 Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova
Vitalie and Ecaterina
Vitalie and Ecaterina

Music strengthened Vitalie’s resolve to overcome tuberculosis, music’s healing power saw him through to the end of two years of treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). He recounts how much music helped him, “Playing calmed me, the rhythm settled my anxiety and my doubts about fighting off this disease.” Vitalie is a master of the hammered dulcimer, an instrument very much a part of folk music in Central and Eastern Europe. In Moldova, the hammered dulcimer is called tambal and Vitalie has been playing it for 14 years. Its sound has mesmerized him ever since he first heard it as a child. 

Vitalie’s story is symbolic of Moldova’s TB epidemic, a mix of prime working age adults leaving the country to find jobs, of alcohol’s stranglehold during socioeconomic decline, and of the effects of stigma against TB patients. When jobs for musicians became scarce, Vitalie went to Russia as a construction laborer and may have contracted TB while he was a migrant worker. Upon returning, he started TB treatment in Moldova in September 2013, when he was 28 years old. He could not find a steady job and played the tambal at weddings and in cafes to earn money. Alcohol was plentiful and within easy reach while he played late into the night. 

Back at Balti’s Music School “Gheorge Enescu” a decade ago, Speranta Terrei’s patient coordinator, Galina, taught Vitalie music history and theory. Galina still teaches at the music school and she remembers Vitalie as a good student! As a TB patient, he was referred to Speranta Terrei because alcohol addiction put him in a risk group for abandoning treatment. Ecaterina was his moderator and she gave him Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) daily. She has given treatment support to 8 TB patients and is herself an unemployed graduate of laboratory medicine from Balti Medical College. Vitalie and his wife, Mariana, say Ecaterina guided them during the long treatment, answering their questions on preventing transmission, especially to Mariana and a baby to come (see photos taken at Balti TB dispensary of Ecaterina and Vitalie speaking and Vitalie placing a sputum sample). Last November, Vitalie finished TB treatment and his family, including one-year old Sorina, is healthy. He has a job playing the tambal in an orchestra and he avoids alcohol.

Vitalie attends TB Club at Speranta Terrei’s Centre for Tuberculosis Patients and talks openly of his struggles, encouraging other patients and praising his moderator, Ecaterina. Stigma against TB patients is so strong that Vitalie does not want us to show photos of his face or his prized tambal. Speranta Terrei’s staff and patients thank our many donors, who have been supporting us to control TB behind the scenes. Vitalie is a symbol of how much community treatment support matters to vulnerable patients.

 

Vitalie Placing Sputum Sample
Vitalie Placing Sputum Sample
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Alexandr Shows Photos
Alexandr Shows Photos

Speranta Terrei marked World Tuberculosis Day this year with a photo exhibition on TB and distribution of TB information at the market. World Tuberculosis Day on March 24 commemorates Dr. Robert Koch’s announcement in 1882 of his discovery that Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes TB. For Speranta Terrei, it is a day when we highlight how the disease affects patients and how it is diagnosed and treated. 

As Speranta Terrei’s photographer, Alexandr has had his lens trained on tuberculosis patients and their emotions as they undergo treatment. Alexandr’s collection of photos were exhibited at Balti Municipal Art Gallery “Antioh Cantemir”, with the opening on World Tuberculosis Day. Alexandr says, “I was gratified to see officials from City Hall as well as former patients at the exhibition.” In the attached photos, Alexandr shows and explains the context of his photos to visitors.

Alexandr’s photos are a glimpse into the variety of people to whom our moderators give treatment adherence support. Attendees at the exhibition saw photos of a boy’s puzzled look as he takes a series of anti-TB drugs and of an elderly, bedridden woman overcome with tears of joy at completing treatment with the assistance of a moderator. Among the photos were the anxious expressions of men who had not been outside in months and who appeared drained from the unaccustomed lack of activity.

Speranta Terrei’s translator, Irina, organized a group of students from her Ion Creanga High School classes to hand out TB information to market vendors. On a rainy World Tuberculosis Day, 10 students gathered at the entrance of Balti’s central market with TB pamphlets (see photo). They fanned out to speak to vendors (photos) and shoppers, explaining TB symptoms and encouraging people to be tested if they experience symptoms.

The students said they realized the heavy toll TB takes on their fellow Moldovans and learned from the questions the market vendors asked them. One of the students, Radmila, said, “Some people seemed to be so worried about a neighbor who was coughing for several weeks, they realize how important it is to make a medical test.” Another student, Lia, was heartened that, “People understand they are responsible for their own health and kept asking us questions what to do and where to go for a TB test.”

Alexandr’s photos and students raising awareness were a fitting way to honor the critical discovery of Dr. Koch. Speranta Terrei thanks our generous donors for allowing us to continue the long battle against tuberculosis. 

 

Alexandr and Visitors at Exhibition
Alexandr and Visitors at Exhibition
Irina & Students in Front of Market
Irina & Students in Front of Market
Student Explains TB to Meat Vendor
Student Explains TB to Meat Vendor
Cheese Vendor Learns About TB Disease
Cheese Vendor Learns About TB Disease
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Liudmila takes anti-TB drugs from Galina
Liudmila takes anti-TB drugs from Galina

For Sergei and Liudmila, the past year brought them together and it brought a large dose of misfortune. They were diagnosed with drug-susceptible tuberculosis, the stove in their one-room house caught fire, vagrants kept entering through the unlocked door at night, their few clothes were stolen from the outdoor laundry line, and Sergei was injured badly when he fell riding a borrowed bicycle. Through these misfortunes, Galina and Igor of Speranta Terrei have been there, a constant and reassuring presence offering hope.

Sergei and Liudmila met at the TB dispensary in Balti. Sergei was under TB treatment when Galina brought Liudmila, who was homeless at the time, for a TB test. After Sergei broke his hand and leg in the bicycle accident in April, he could no longer go to the TB dispensary. Doctors asked Speranta Terrei’s patient coordinator, Galina, and moderator, Igor, to give Sergei Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) at home. Galina and Igor found Sergei bedridden on a small divan in a decrepit house, without electricity or gas. Sergei was unemployed, having been retrenched from his job at the railway station. He had neither a pasaport (residency document) nor a health insurance card and, therefore, could not get medical care following the bicycle accident.

Galina and Igor, accustomed to poor and addicted patients, knew DOT was only the beginning. Liudmila suffers from alcoholism and Galina must use her characteristic stern touch to ensure Liudmila sticks to TB treatment. The attached photos show Liudmila taking anti-TB drugs from Galina and Galina checking the repaired stove, the only source for cooking and heating. Sergei has been cured of TB, but he cannot walk on his own. He has a pasaport and a health insurance card and can obtain medical care. Liudmila is ineligible for these documents because she is a Russian citizen, though she is eligible for free TB treatment in Moldova. Liudmila eats lunch periodically at Speranta Terrei’s Centre for Tuberculosis Patients (photo) and takes food for Sergei to eat at home. Sergei and Liudmila say Galina’s daily presence has been critical, “She is our protective angel, never abandoning us and showing us how to renew our lives.”   

This month Speranta Terrei introduces its new logo on the Global Giving page! The logo’s designer is John Gravdahl, owner of Propeller Press (http://www.propeller-press.com) and professor at Colorado State University (http://art.colostate.edu/people/profiles/gravdahl/). The logo incorporates elements of traditional Moldovan artistic forms and features a double spiral, symbolizing balance and renewal. John selected the strong red colors to represent energy and the vitality of life.

We thank John for this vibrant logo and all that it represents for our patients and our organization. We thank our donors for their generosity so that we may give TB patients a chance to recover and regain the vitality of life.

Galina checks Sergei & Liudmila's stove
Galina checks Sergei & Liudmila's stove
Liudmila (foreground) eats soup at Centre
Liudmila (foreground) eats soup at Centre
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Ana Eating Soup
Ana Eating Soup

The simple act of sitting down to a bowl of hot soup meant much to Olga and her children, Artiom and Ana. They came to the Centre for Tuberculosis Patients to partake in Speranta Terrei’s Saturday lunch. Speranta Terrei started recently to serve a weekly lunch at its Centre to give sustenance to a few of the TB patients and homeless in our town, Balti.

Olga is a single mother of 5 children, the eldest an 11-year old disabled boy and the youngest a baby of 3 months. She was living in a public garden when Eugenia spotted her and noticed Olga was in a panic. Eugenia helps TB patients with social assistance applications at Speranta Terrei and invited the family to the Centre to discuss their situation and to try to find services for them. Galina, our intrepid homeless coordinator, took Olga for a TB diagnostic test. Eugenia assisted Olga with applications for temporary housing and social assistance. Thankfully, the TB test was negative and Olga is immensely relieved. She and the children have been in contact with people who had TB and Olga says “TB frightens me because I have seen its effects.” 

She says it is hard to express in words the warm feeling of being at a dining table with her children. After they left the Centre, Artiom and Ana asked her, “When are we going back there?” They were happy they could take a box of food with them for their siblings. The attached photos show Olga and Ana at the table and the family waving goodbye in front of the Centre. 

Your donations allow Speranta Terrei to reach those at risk of TB infection and to undertake preventive measures and prophylaxis treatment. In Moldova, as elsewhere, homelessness increases the risk of TB disease and the homeless are among the groups who should be screened for TB.

Many thanks for donating so that Speranta Terrei can fulfill the purpose of its Centre, a place where the vulnerable can find solace. A simple act carries a lot of meaning!

Olga Feeding Ana
Olga Feeding Ana
Family Waving Goodbye After Lunch
Family Waving Goodbye After Lunch
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Igor listens to Cecilia
Igor listens to Cecilia

Tuberculosis disease carries with it the stigma and fear of airborne infection. Patients and former patients are shunned by employers, classmates, and neighbors, even when treatment is effective and they have been cured. Add to such circumstances a spell in prison and the separation from society intensifies. At Speranta Terrei, we counter misconceptions on how TB is transmitted and promote reintegration of tuberculosis patients through raising awareness and through our services.

Igor, who completed treatment for drug-susceptible tuberculosis earlier this year comes regularly to Speranta Terrei’s Centre for Tuberculosis Patients in Balti. The Centre was renovated in part through Global Giving donations. He comes for psychological counseling and to consult representatives of the Documentation Office during a meeting of the TB Club. He follows the conversation with the help of a hearing aid and notes the long list of certificates he must submit to replace the residency permit he lost in prison. The residency permit, called pasaport, is a lifeline for employment, health care, job training, social services, and voting in Moldova. The attached photo shows Igor listening as Cecilia, the head of the Documentation Office in Balti, explains the requirements. Cecilia says she is happy to come to the Centre, “where I can answer questions methodically to a handful of people and simplify the process for those in critical need of a pasaport.” 

Counseling from Speranta Terrei’s psychologist, Valerii, has helped Igor to recover from incarceration and TB. The attached photo shows them at the Centre in May. Igor talks of his love of wood carving. He says, “Working with my hands is healing and a way for me to cope.” With scrap wood donated from a university wood shop, Igor carves religious icons, utensils, and furniture. He says, “I want to carve a figure to decorate the Centre’s entrance, to show my gratitude to Speranta Terrei.” Igor shares his experience with new patients at TB Club meetings and helps them to understand that they can recover as well. We rejoice in his progress from a year ago, when his moderator, Liudmila, was bringing him TB drugs at home (see photo). 

At Speranta Terrei, treatment support is the start of our relationship with patients. We understand there are many sides to tuberculosis and healing takes more than TB drugs. It takes a long-term involvement with patients and thanks to your contributions, we are putting this into practice.

 

Igor talks to Valerii
Igor talks to Valerii
Igor takes TB drugs from Liudmila
Igor takes TB drugs from Liudmila
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Organization Information

Speranta Terrei

Location: Balti - Moldova, Republic of
Project Leader:
Feodora Rodiucova
Balti, Moldova, Republic of
$119,669 raised of $135,000 goal
 
586 donations
$15,331 to go
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