Children
 Russia
Project #9464

MAMA+ Supports 100 HIV-Affected Babies In Russia

by St.Petersburg-based non-governmental organization 'Doctors to Children'
Vetted
KIRILL
KIRILL

Dear friends,

After several months we are happy again to share the MAMA+ Project achievements as well as the latest news with you.

Last time, we told you a story of a mother and her daughter (Ksenia and Dasha) who had to move to St. Petersburg. It is great that everything is getting better step by step in this small family, and we are grateful to you for supporting the MAMA+ project.   Ksenia and Dasha appreciate the project staff members for their assistance in the difficult life situation. MAMA+ staff assisted the woman in renting housing and contacting a partner government social services center locally, where she was supported in paperwork for having her child enrolled in a kindergarten. Unfortunately, placing an HIV-positive child in an ordinary kindergarten is still a problem. DTC helped Ksenia register for children’s allowances and receive a confirmation of her child’s disability status in St. Petersburg. The woman and her daughter visited the MAMA+ Center: Ksenia was in care of the project psychologist.
 
In early October, Dasha began to attend a government kindergarten, and her mother was able to find employment. We are glad to know that, and we are wishing Dasha good health.

We are happy when we are able to support a family in a difficult life situation, change public attitudes related to HIV-positive children and adults, and obtain justice.

Today we are going to tell you a story about Eugenia and her son Kirill who are currently on active assistance of the MAMA+ project.

Eugenia, 36 years old, and Kirill, 8 months old.

In February 2015, a long-awaited child Kirill was born in the family of Eugenia and Maksim. Both parents have history of using drugs and being in conflict with the law. However, by the moment of Kirill’s birth they had been in remission for over five years (both parents are HIV-positive). Maksim was employed, and the family was renting a room in a communal apartment. The parents prepared everything for the baby: furniture, clothes, and toys. During her pregnancy, Eugenia visited the AIDS Center where she was told about the MAMA+ Center, and was taking the therapy.

When their baby was 4 months old, Maksim was made redundant at work, and the financial status of the family deteriorated. The family faced the lack of funds to buy baby formula for Kirill. Eugenia contacted MAMA+ staff for assistance. The project began to support the mother and her child, providing them with assistance in purchasing baby formula and diapers. At home visits, MAMA+ staff trained the woman on child care and development issues. They made the woman realize the importance of taking care of her child’s health status, and arranged a consultation with a neurologist for the boy. The doctor prescribed physical therapy and additional examinations and tests for Kirill. The boy’s mother complied all recommendations given by doctors. At five months, the boy experienced the first seizure (severe spasms)… he was placed in a hospital where he was diagnosed West syndrome (epilepsy at early age). Kirill spent almost a month in the hospital, and the doctors took pains to stop the seizures, using superpotent medication. Nobody knows what is in store for the baby, and the doctors refrain from making any prognosis. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: the boy should be under continuous medical monitoring and take a course of expensive medicaments. The project staff continue to provide the family with psychosocial support, assisting them at every stage of resolving the problem.

Now the boy needs a qualified epileptologist, who would assist him over the continuous period of treatment. The treatment and diagnostics are very costly. One of the required medicaments costs over 8 thousand roubles ($130).

Together with Eugenia, we hope for the best.

MAMA+ staff will continue to support the woman and her child. And we kindly ask you to support the MAMA+ Project.

volunteer of the cosmetics brand
volunteer of the cosmetics brand

Dear Friends,

We are happy to share the news on the MAMA+ project!

International Children’s Day
On June 1 and 5, volunteers of the cosmetics brand MAC owned by Estee Lauder Corporation participated in a holiday conducted by Doctors to Children on occasion of celebrating the International Children’s Day. On June 1, the holiday was hosted by the Crisis Center for Women. On June 5, the guests visited the MAMA+ Center. Such actions have become our good tradition: every year, MAC staff members conduct bright events for HIV-affected women and children.

This time, MAC makeup designers told the mothers about the makeup specifics, new brand products, and engaged them in a makeup session. DTC’s young clients were also engaged in the action: the babies were gifted feeding bottles, and the older children were given coloring books and markers. The holiday culminated in a short photo session, MAC gifts giving ceremony, and tea. Due to participation of MAC professionals, this day turned to a true holiday of beauty for DTC’s clients.

The International Children’s Day was officially established by the Congress of the International Women’s Democratic Federation in 1949. It aims to raise public awareness of the problems faced by children all over the world.

Today we would like to tell you a story of a woman recently enrolled in the MAMA+ Project

Ksenia, 30, and her daughter Daria (Dasha), 5.

Both are HIV-positive.
Together with her daughter, Ksenia arrived in St. Petersburg for permanent residence from another city where she had been assisted by staff of DTC’s partner organization (DTC has been disseminating its best practices of assisting HIV-positive women and children in other regions of Russia through training service providers working with women and children).

Background. Ksenia learned about her HIV status when she was pregnant. The prevention therapy turned out to be ineffective. Right after birth, her daughter was tested positive. When Dasha was one month old, she was registered with the AIDS Center. Ksenia says she contracted HIV from her husband, a citizen of Uzbekistan, who had experience of using drugs. When Dasha was three months, he left the family. The woman found herself alone to raise her child: her mother had died; her aunt living in the same city stopped contacts with her having learned about her diagnosis.
Before Ksenia enrolled in the MAMA+ Project, her and her daughter’s diagnosis was disclosed at her workplace: staff of the local AIDS Center made a phone call to Ksenia’s office and told her colleagues that she and her child were HIV-positive. The woman lost everything: job, friends... But she also lost confidence in the AIDS Center staff. Over two years, the child’s health status was getting worse and finally became critical. In despair, Ksenia tried to save her daughter on her own. She browsed Internet and found information about the Infectious Diseases Clinical Hospital in Ust-Izhora (near St. Petersburg). Spending her last money, she went there with her child without any referrals. Both were accepted. Under stress, her own health status worsened, and she was prescribed continuous ARV therapy.
Over three years, Ksenia and Dasha were visiting St. Petersburg for treatment and lab tests. Their health status stabilized gradually. The viral load decreased.

It was a difficult decision for Ksenia to move to St. Petersburg for permanent residence. She was limited in financial resources, had no permanent employment, no other sources of support except for DTC’s assistance.

Ksenia contacted MAMA+ for psychological and social assistance. The project staff members helped her with her child’s enrollment in a pre-school educational institution, so that she could find employment (enrollment of an HIV-positive child in a government kindergarten is a serious challenge. DTC was able to agree with a partner organization that the child be taken to a daycare center from 03.00PM to 08.00PM).

The woman is still afraid of disclosing her and her daughter’s diagnosis, which may provoke negative attitudes to Dasha. A true mother, Ksenia takes care of her daughter and is prepared to do everything to make her happy.

Ksenia and Dasha are in need of your support, until the woman finds employment.

Your support is needed by MAMA+ Project clients – HIV-positive women and children. Over the last three months, MAMA+ staff have enrolled 22 women with children.

International Children
International Children's Day
MAMA+Social Worker
MAMA+Social Worker
International Children
International Children's Day

Dear Friends,

We are happy to share our latest news with you: Doctors to Children has got a new home.
DTC moved to a new office located at the following address: 89A Fontanka embankment, Unit 20-N.
For years, we have been dreaming of establishing a child care center which would allow provision of services to survivors of child abuse, HIV-positive women and children, as well as clients of the Foster Family project.
In 2014, the St. Petersburg City Administration provided DTC with a facility for establishing the children’s center. In March 2015, the long-awaited move happened.
This move would be impossible without persistence and patience of DTC staff, support and participation of partners and fellow-thinkers. DTC staff members are extending their gratitude to all who cares for the lives of children.
DTC’s doors are always open for those who need support!
DTC’s new address is 89A Fontanka embankment, Unit 20-N, St. Petersburg, 190031, Russia.

NY
NY

New Year Holiday at the MAMA+ Center

As a matter of tradition, on December 30, 2014, DTC with the support of staff of the Novartis-Neva LLC organized a New Year holiday for children at the MAMA+ Center. The company staff prepared individual presents for children, responding to letters written by the children’s mothers in advance. Additionally, the company staff prepared a performance for MAMA+ young clients, with participation of Father Frost and the Snow Maiden. The holiday culminated in tea and sweets.

Older Children were engaged by Father Frost in creative assignments, reading rhymes, guessing riddles, and singing songs. Both younger and older kids participated in the activities organized by the long-awaited guest. Everybody was given a present and sweets. Before leaving the party, Father Frost wished all the children good health in the New Year.

 

Klava (29 years old) and Serafima (two months old)

Klava was referred to the MAMA+ Project by doctors of the Botkin Hospital. In January 2015, the woman gave birth to a girl. While she was pregnant, she was using drugs and alcohol, which resulted in premature delivery. After giving birth, Klava stopped using drugs.

The doctors provided Klava with medical examination, which revealed severe sexually transmitted infection. Therefore, the newborn girl showed symptoms of prenatal infection. After birth, the girl in critical condition was transferred from the maternity hospital to an intensive care unit of a city children’s hospital. During pregnancy Klava was not taking ARV therapy, which augmented her risk of transmitting the virus to her child.

Assessing the woman’s life situation, MAMA+ staff found that she was a social orphan and had no housing.

Given that her daughter was born prematurely, Klava had no chances to obtain the maternity certificate (a medical insurance policy for pregnant women) to ensure her child’s right to free medical care.

Presently the girl is placed in a premature baby unit of the hospital. Her mother was referred to an STD clinic for a course of treatment. As the treatment is going to take an extended period of time, Serafima will be placed in a babies’ home for a while.

As the woman has no housing on her own, she will have nowhere to take her daughter after the discharge. In this difficult life situation, she contacted MAMA+ for assistance.

All MAMA+ efforts are currently aimed to support the child in the hospital: the project staff members are visiting the girl regularly, providing her with baby formula and hygienic products. Additionally, the project staff members are providing support to Klava, supervising her progress of treatment. As soon as she gets better and her daughter is discharged from the hospital, MAMA+ staff members are planning to place the family in the MAMA+ Halfway House for a program of temporary residence and crisis support.

Kristina and Matvey
Kristina and Matvey

Kristina and Matvey

MAMA+ staff first met with Kristina, 33, in the middle of March 2014 at a hospital prenatal unit. According to information provided by the unit staff, that moment the woman was in abstinence after drug abuse, though she denied that. MAMA+ staff members provided her with the details of the project opportunities, psychological support and contact information. Kristina promised to think it over and call back. On the following day, she gave birth to her son Matvey. The boy was transferred to a children’s hospital immediately for treatment and care provided to children born prematurely.

Two weeks later, Kristina called to MAMA+ and asked for the project support. It was found that she had been using injection drugs for over 16 years. In 2009, she served a term of confinement in prison. That was the period when she refrained from drugs and wanted to change something in her life. This is when she learned she was HIV-positive. However her main problem that several times brought her to risk behaviors was inability to arrive at understanding with her mother. Frequent conflicts were putting the family at risk of segregation.

 Kristina could not stay with her relatives in a communal apartment, as her room was occupied by her brother with his girlfriend while she was in prison, and another room was shared by her mother and her step-father who abused alcohol and often worked off anger on her. A teenager, Kristna began to live on her own staying at her friends’ and spending much time on the street where she got addicted to drugs and experienced a sexual offence.

When Matvey was born, Krisitna’s mother kept her away from home. The woman stressed that her drug-abusing daughter had no right to give birth to children at all. Doctors of the children’s hospital where the baby was placed in also supposed that Krisina would not be able to cope up with her addiction and would not take her baby home. MAMA+ staff began their work with the client with assessing her resources, providing her with psychological support and motivating her for substance abuse treatment. It was found that Kristina’s main resource was her domestic partner, Matvey’s father. He had no experience of using drugs and had no HIV-status.

Escorted by the project staff, Kristina visited her son at the hospital. MAMA+ provided the woman with material assistance, including hygienic goods and baby formula. The project staff also assisted Kristina in receiving a substance abuse treatment course which helped her retain stable remission from drugs. Due to MAMA+ support Kristina improved her life situation, and in a short while she was permitted by the hospital to take Matvey home.

MAMA+ staff also interacted with the client’s mother to improve the family situation and ensure the family support. Their efforts resulted in attaining legal grounds for Kristina to stay with her relatives at their housing and have her baby registered. A court trial was initiated to divide the ownership rights and arrears or rent between the family members. Nevertheless, the multi-year conflict in this family continued.

Presently, Kristina, her partner and her baby are living in a rented apartment. The woman’s partner has an unstable income source. The main source of financial support is his parents. Kristina was prescribed continuous ARV therapy. Once the woman interrupted the treatment without doctors’ permission. This had negative impact on her health status. MAMA+ staff were able to explain her the importance of continuous therapy intake.

Matvey has developmental delays resulted by neurological disorders. His mother brings him for medical consultations and physical therapy sessions. MAMA+ and other staff involved believe that his health status will improve by one year of age. Now he is eight and a half years old, and he rejoices at everything that surrounds him.

Kristina
Kristina
 

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Project Leader:
Elena Karaseva
St. Petersburg, Russia

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