Little Jessika (not her real name) is only seven years old, but has already experienced more adversity in her short years than most of us will in an entire lifetime. Her life has been one medical procedure or tragedy after the other.
Yet despite her multiple illnesses and challenges, Jessika remains a happy child who smiles at the smallest things. Although she can be rather shy when first meeting new people, once she warms up to you she wants to play with you and laughs at your jokes.
Jessika was born with HIV, but it was not diagnosed by her doctors at the time. Her immune system was severally weakened by her hidden illness and she developed pulmonary tuberculosis and heart failure as a baby. When she was very young she developed such a severe case of diarrhoea that it caused vaginal fistula. She has to undergo a series of surgeries to repair this, including a colostomy.
If all of this wasn’t enough tragedy for one little girl, she has lost both of her parents to HIV. After her parents died, Jessika and her maternal brother were taken in by their grandparents. Several years later, their grandparents continue care for them both and make sure that Jessika doesn’t live with too much pain and that she gets the treatment she needs
A helping hand from Nurse Dadan
Jessika has been a patient of Rachel House over several years. Each time she gets very sick, our nursing team step in to help stabilise her illness and nurse her back to health.
Right now she is being cared for by nurse Dadan. Whenever nurse Dadan comes to visit, Jessika is so happy to see him and greets him loudly. She plays with him and laughs at his jokes while he conducts his medical check-ups to monitor her illness and symptoms. Dadan will often accompany Jessika’s family to the hospital when she has a specialist appointment.
Thanks to the support of GlobalGiving donors, nurse Dadan also brings infant milk – which is really important to support the development and health of children with serious illnesses like HIV or TB – and diapers to the home as needed. Donor support also allows for Jessika and her grandmother, accompanied by nurse Dadan, to get to the hospital for specialist appointments and to purchase the necessary, but expensive, medicines.
Thanks to a stable medication regime and constant support from nurse Dadan and her family, Jessika’s condition has improved significantly in recent weeks. When Nurse Dadan asked her about this recently, she smiled at him and said she was happy because she no longer has to use and carry a colostomy bag everywhere.
Sometimes Dadan will even bring Jessika dolls and toys to play with; toys that Jessika loves, but she always makes sure to share with her brother!
The best of friends
Jessika and her brother, who is only three-years-old, are very close. She is very protective of him, although she often looks for cues from her brother to talk to new people.
Jessika’s relationship with her brother would warm your heart. Like all siblings, they might fight sometimes, but they both try to protect and help each other when they can. They understand each other.
Although Jessika is seven-years-old, her speech pattern is not like kids her age and she is only just starting kindergarten. She often likes to watch music videos or cartoons to help her learn how to speak and her brother helps her sing along to the songs on the video.
The love of a sibling – and her grandparents – strengthens Jessika’s spirit to fight and smile through it all. To find happiness in the small things – such as a new doll or a singing along to a video – and to live life like any other girl her age.