What makes our program unique?
Our pediatric HIV care program that provides a comprehensive package of life saving health care services to 400 HIV+ orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia, is unique for the following reasons:
1. The program is comprehensive. Program activities target the whole family and not just the child who is enrolled. The primary caregiver of the child (most are grandmothers caring for multiple orphaned grandchildren) is provided with training in basic nursing before the child is enrolled. Also, expecting moms are automatically enrolled in our PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV). In addition to better care for the HIV+ child, this leads better knowledge about HIV, prevention of new infections, reduces stigma, and results in better care for all members in the household.
2. This program is integrated with our micro loans, malaria prevention and educational games and activities programs. This implies that in addition to the HIV+ child receiving health care, the family receives insecticide treated mosquito bed nets, education in malaria, and an opportunity to enroll in our micro loans and “Safe Park” programs.
3. We have been working successfully on the ground for more than 17 years now and are embedded in the community. Churches and other organizations provide us with referrals and have come to rely on our services.
4. However, it is the positive attitude of the children enrolled that makes this program unique. Each child is special, brings us unlimited joy and inspires us every day.
Stories of two such children are given below.
Mary, aged 13, is a double orphan and lives with her widowed grandmother. She lost her father to TB in 2013, and her mom a year later due to a complicated miscarriage. She and her younger sister were enrolled in 2012. Mary’s grandma suffers from high BP and diabetes, so she is not able to provide proper care for Mary and her sister. At this time, they are being cared for by their uncle. There are eight people in a three-room house with no electricity and they use communal water.
Mary suffered from fever, diarrhea and cough since she was two years old. Post enrollment her health stabilized and with medication her viral load is at an undetectable level. She is a seventh grader and loves school. In Zambia, exams at the end of seventh grade are tough but she is confident of doing well and being promoted to grade eight next January. She participates regularly in our weekly games and educational activities program. Despite, difficult circumstances, Mary is focused on school and interacts well with other children. We are inspired by her.
Frank is the youngest of four siblings. He lost his mom when he was just one month old. His father remarried and moved to the north western province, so he is being cared for by his aunt (mom's sister). His aunt sells used clothing that she orders from Tanzania. Frank enrolled in our pediatric HIV care program in 2018. He is a ninth grader and a good student. He likes music and plays an instrument with the Church band. He is a source of joy and an inspiration for us.
Thanks for giving the gift of health to hundreds of children like Mary and Frank.