South Africa has been on lockdown for the past 103 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic that affected the whole world including us and those that we serve.
We have had to suspend the AfterSchool Programme as we were not given a permit to operate, thus making it hard for vulnerable kids, they couldn’t get a proper meal each day or the Nucleo supplement which boosts their immune system.
We were able to provide families with a food parcel that would last for a month, and we developed a workbook to assist the parents/guardians in developing a daily structure for the kids because many of them play outside and are often with crowds which puts their lives at risks.
A follow up was taking the AfterSchool Programme to the homes as the parents/guardians were struggling with homeschooling due to a lack of education on their side, although their commitment is amazing.
Every day of the week we go to different homes with lessons prepared in connection with their school work so that the kids do not fall behind and they continue to develop.
Tshiamo* started coming to Meetse a Bophelo early this year. Full of smiles, this tiny little girl who is HIV positive was brought by her confused mother who was full of despair and had no hope.
Though Tshiamo was shy at first, she now enjoys the safe environment at Meetse a Bophelo, where she’s fed good food and given a nutritious milkshake [Nucleo] before heading home. She also appreciates the help she gets with her schoolwork and the new friends, both children and adults, that she has made.
She is now gaining a little bit of weight and has a lot of energy to play while showing a joyful face which is so adorable.
We are so grateful and humbled by the impact the Nucleo supplement has in the lives of the children that are coming to our center helpless and hopeless, many with major weight loss. To seeing them gradually gaining weight as they use the supplements and get a good meal is priceless, as are the smiles on their faces.
Khulekani* came to our After School Centre (Meetse a Bophelo) as a very young boy. He was bitter, angry, distant and a bully - his bullying behaviour had that meant he had to move around to many places. He was staying at an orphanage at the time, but now lives with his mother.
When he came to us he was not used to eating a balanced diet or getting good nutrition, he struggled with being overweight. We started monitoring the amount of food he was eating and giving him Nucleo. Now he has lost excess weight and is able to play with other kids and is even giving them advice not to fight. “When I grow up I love to help other people because I have seen how Meetse (a Bophelo) has helped me,” Khulekani said.
Another child, called Muntu*, started attending the After School Programme when he was very young and tiny. He hated salads and healthy food but today he is super excited about life, even though he is living with HIV. So Muntu, I ask: “Are you taking your medication every day?” He responded: “I can’t go a day without taking my medication, if I do”, he added, “I am subtracting a life for that day”. Muntu has now gained weight and grown a bit taller.
These stories and many more encourage us to continue helping and seeing transformation in the lives of the young people coming through our center. The nutritional boost of the Nucleo supplement makes it possible for us to continue the work we are doing, and see the children's health benefit.
Nucleo has played a big role in Muntu and Khulekani’s lives and helped them to attain and maintain a healthy weight. * Names changed.
Sarah is a school teacher, she has adopted a young girl who faced many challenges as a toddler. Furthermore she has taken on 5 other underprivileged kids from her community, helping them with meals and things like school uniforms. However, due to exhaustion, she was not able to get around as she would like to. She wasn't able to be the mother she wanted to be for her daughter or give the community kids the attention they needed.
She can now be the mother she wanted to be, and give the kids in the community the attention she desired to. Sarah is also able to fully live out her passion as a teacher of 7th graders impacting their lives in a very positive way.
We are extremely thankful that AIDSLink was able to make a difference in Sarah's life, so that she can in turn impact the lives of many children in her community.
A colleague from Zambia was visiting the AIDSLink ministry in South Africa and told the team about a child who was in a difficult situation.
They made a house visit and discovered a young boy who had lost both his parents and was staying with his sister and brother, who were both unemployed. Consequently he was not studying well, nor eating well.
We took him in to be part of the after school programme, so he could get some coaching with his school work and a good meal each day. He was struggling a lot with anger and swearing, but since coming to centre he is getting a better little by little, he is also getting stronger physically, now he has a lot energy and even tells some jokes.
This year he attended the annual kids camp for the first time and was overwhelmed to be a part of this weekend away.
Thank-you for helping children like him to get good nutrition which helps them to focus in school and grow physically. We couldn't do it without you!
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