Kolya and the MAMA+ specialist
Dear friends and supporters,
Thanks to your generous donations, in winter months of 2011-2012 we have been able to provide 26 HIV-positive mothers and their babies in St. Petersburg with milk formula, child care supplies, shelter and access to public services. We can already see positive changes in the lives of these women and their children! We would like to update you on the stories of two women and their children, which have become success stories since our last newsletter in December 2011 thanks to your invaluable support.
Sofia (The names of clients and their children have been changed for confidentiality reasons) is a native of Kushva, a small town in Sverdlovsk Region of Russia. Her parents had died leaving her with a house completely in shambles. At eighteen, she came to St. Petersburg looking for a job. Sofia lived with her drug-addicted partner who had repeatedly beaten her and eventually kicked her out when she was five months pregnant.
Sofia lost her job as soon as the boss learned about her pregnancy. She found herself with neither income nor housing. Another piece of bad news was that she had been diagnosed with HIV. After learning she was HIV-positive, Sofia’s older brother who lived in the suburbs of St. Petersburg turned his back on her.
When Sofia arrived to the MAMA+ Halfway House in March 2011, she had already been registered with the AIDS Center and was receiving prophylactic treatment to prevent HIV transmission to the baby. In August her son Kolya was born ten weeks early and placed into an ICU for a month. Upon discharge, the baby still required a lot of medical attention, but he is much better now. MAMA+ staff helped Sofia receive all the lacking documents for herself and for the child. MAMA+ supported Sofia in caring for Kolya, provided them with appropriate nutrition, medication, child care supplies and clothes. “MAMA+ instilled me with a hope for the better”, Sofia says.
MAMA+ psychologists helped Sofia improve her relationship with her brother. In January 2012, she moved out of the halfway house to live with her brother and his family. Now she also has a job at a local supermarket.
Sofia is still in contact with MAMA+ staff and her friends from the Halfway House, who have supported her all this time. These women have experienced similar problems and shared the support that enabled them and their babies to survive.
Nadya (The names of clients and their children have been changed for confidentiality reasons) is an orphan: the parents abandoned her at birth, and Nadya has grown up in an orphanage together with her eight brothers and sisters. Since then, she kept in contact only with one brother.
Upon coming of age, Nadya and her brother as orphans were provided by the government with a place in a communal apartment. As often happens with orphanage graduates, they fell victims of fraud and found themselves on the street. They became addicted to substances, and Nadya’s brother soon died, while she learned she was HIV-positive.
At 27, Nadya got pregnant. Her partner died before their son was born. She found herself on the street again, now with a newborn child. When Nadya enrolled into the MAMA+ Halfway house in September 2011, she did not have any documents either for herself or for her little son Yegor. MAMA+ staff helped her obtain the necessary documents and get access to healthcare and social services. Yegor received a comprehensive medical examination that showed developmental delays requiring physical therapy. MAMA+ provided Nadya and Yegor with the most necessary things, such as medications, milk formula, clothes, child care supplies, and others.
At the halfway house, Nadya also received the life skills that she was never able to learn at the orphanage. MAMA+ staff helped Nadya establish a good connection with her child, the kind she has never had with her own mother.
Nadya and Yegor are still residents of the MAMA+ halfway house, although Nadya already feels empowered to handle various issues on her own.
“MAMA+ provided me with both emotional and material assistance. They gave me hope that my son and I have a future”, says Nadya.
On behalf of our clients and their children, I thank you all for your generous support. Doctors to Children looks forward to sharing more successes from MAMA+ with the GlobalGiving community.
Roman Yorick, MD, MPH
Nadya and Yegor