Children
 India
Project #11554

Food, medicines & education for 45 HIV+ve orphans

by Freedom Foundation

Manjula aged 19 yrs. was brought to Freedom Foundation in January 2010, she lost her father in the year 2003 and mother in December 2009 for AIDS. Her elder brother and sister were negative and stayed with their uncle. Manjula and her younger brother who were HIV positive were admitted to Freedom Foundation by their uncle.

She was in follow up with IGH only for ART and the other treatments were given by HIV specialists who are linked with FF.

Her CD4 was dropping down since March 2014 and started often falling sick towards the end of 2014 she had been continuously treated for cold, chest congestion, cough and fever, but dint recover fully. She was infected with TB and started with ATT treatment from 10th Jan 2015. But even with this, her health and CD4 did not improve

All these health issues were continuously discussed with doctors at IGH but we dint receive a proper response. The only response we got is that they will discuss with NACO and get back to us. So FF decided and did the viral load test in May 2015. The result showed very high which was an indication that the present medication is not working. To decide the next suitable drug, did the drug resistance test. The results were showing high-level resistance to all 1st line & 2nd line regimens. The same was discussed with the FF doctors and also with doctors at IGH. From IGH, we received the same response to wait and her conditions were becoming bad day by day. So FF doctors decided to change the regimen. The main challenge for FF was to bear the cost as this medicine is not available with govt. As we dint have a second option, she was started with 3rd line regimen. Another major challenge was to convince the doctors of IGH but since they were aware of the condition, they agreed and suggested to continue the medication with the support of FF till they get the particular medicine from govt. sector.

Academic challenges:

Due to continuous sickness, she had missed most of her classes and nearly two month classes (in Feb & March 2015) before her 10th board exams. In regard to this, FF staff visited the schools, discussed with teachers and principal regarding her health condition and need for rest. She studied from home for her 10th exams and lots of efforts were taken to motivate her to read regularly at home with all difficulties (Physically and psychologically) and get through in her board exam. Again she had missed one month classes in her I PU (in July 2015) and it was a great challenge for FF to convince the college authorities regarding her health condition as she had to take a long leave just at the beginning of her college.

Now with this medication much improvement is seen her CD4 is slowly increasing other infections are reducing.

Studying for her exams
Studying for her exams
Cutting her birthday cake!
Cutting her birthday cake!
Anitha at work...1
Anitha at work...1

Anitha was 4 yrs old when admitted at Freedom Foundation. She was referred by Dr.Sheela Achar after testing HIV +ve.. She was admitted on 22.08.1997 with both her parents and elder sister who were all HIV +ve. However she lost both her parents and elder sister in 2000 to AIDS. She has two elder brothers and one younger brother who are HIV –ve & are taken care of by their relatives. She was very attached to her mother & was in depression when she lost her sister. Though she took a reasonably long time to cope with it, she has been a fighter from there on. She has started her 1st line HAART in the year 2000 and shifted to 2nd line HAART since 2009. She is one of the oldest child survivors living with this infection.

Anitha is very intelligent and smart, she and showd much interest in her education. She is very good in dancing and likes western dance and is also good in designing with any material, mehandi work & drawing. She is a child born with talent. She is very honest, straightforward, sincere and hardworking. She shows lot of interest and puts all her effort to complete her work. After completing her SSLC education, she was interested in Fashion Designing. The organisation tried to get a free admission in this course but was not able to, meanwhile she joined in KSCCW (Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare) for ‘Balashikshaka Training’ of 10 months. After this, she showed less interest to continue her career in this line, during this time through the previous efforts she got admission for a Diploma in Fashion Designing.

In the year 2015, she completed her 3 yrs Diploma in Fashion Designing and continued with six months training as teaching faculty in the same institute. Now she is keen to start her career in this field especially in ‘Sketches and Designing’, and has posted her resume to a few boutiques. Now she has started doing creative things like bookmarks, pen stand, key chains, etc. out of craft papers, wool, newspapers, etc.

Anitha at work...2
Anitha at work...2
Anitha at work...3
Anitha at work...3
Anitha at work...4
Anitha at work...4
Anitha at work...5
Anitha at work...5
Studying hard
Studying hard

During April-May 2015, six children 3 girls- Bhavana, Manjula & Jacqueline and 3 boys-Abdul, Nagaraj & Vinodh appeared for their tenth board exams. Throughout the year, these kids were specially encouraged and motivated to maintain their study schedule, health, medicine timings, etc. They had also received efficient support from other kids & staff and guidance from two individual volunteers. All these kids were facing challenges in different aspects, all are on HAART medication / treatment, they have learning difficulties and health issues.

Steps taken to ensure that all the 6 kids get through in their board exams:

It was a real challenge for us to see that all these kids successfully complete their 10th because except one child others were weak in their academics, three had learning difficulties and one was sick throughout the year.

  • Regular school visits – were done by the social worker / counselor / caretaker from the beginning of the year, had discussions with the respective teachers which helped us to monitor, guide and help the children to improve in their weak areas.
  • Individual attention - Staff & Volunteers helped every child to complete their daily homework, class work and the projects
  • Regular Monitoring – Study hours was strictly maintained, they were insisted to sit in group / individual & complete their portions on daily basis, monitored their progress by appreciating their improvements & encouraging them to improve in their weaker subjects

Through their sincere efforts and preparation, all kids successfully passed in their exams. The percentage scored by each kid: Bhavana-79%, Nagaraj-57%, Jacqueline -55%, Abdul-54%, Vinodh-52% and Manjula-41%

Child Manjula aged 19yrs was continuously sick since Jan 2015. She had cough and fever, did not recover even after continuous treatment, then detected for TB and started ATT. Her CD4 count had come down, weight had reduced, she had intermittent cough, cold & fever, continuously treated & followed up with nebulization and medicines.

After the results, we sat with each child, understood their area of interest in continuing their education, explained their strengths & weaknesses wherever needed and jointly decided the course for each kid. Then with the help of college personnel and few volunteers, all the kids are admitted in different colleges for PU and Diploma courses under concessional fee. Two kids are admitted at Reva Group of Institution (one for PU-science & one for PU-commerce), two at RBANMS PU college (PU-Arts) and two at Vijaya Vittall Institute of Technology (for Diploma in Mechanical Engineering).

No pain...No gain
No pain...No gain

The pressure in the field of education to perform has gone up drastically. Every child goes through the exam fear during their academics. Examinees shudder at the thought of the examination and fear of failure makes them miserable. The children at Freedom Foundation are currently under this situation. For this academic year, six children are going to write their board exam who are really very much tensed and under pressure. As they are worried about their future, they are trying hard to score good marks which is a real challenge for four of them who are weak in their studies. Couple of months back, all the kids have stopped their leisure activities of playing games, watching movies, etc. As of compiling this report there is absolute focus from the kids on their studies and this is admirable to observe their diligence and determination to do well in their exams. We all wish them the very best!

The children’s anxiety in their own words:

Manjula (10th std) – “I’m working hard but I’m really worried whether I will be able to pass bcoz I’m often falling sick and missed many classes. God should help me to somehow get through this exams”

Jacqueline (10th std) – “Oh, I’m reading, reading, reading…. its not finishing, worried about Maths and Science”

Bhavana (10th std) – “I’m very excited and tensed, solving all the question papers, still worried about the question pattern, somehow I should score 90+”

Vinodh (10th std) – “I’m very concerned about the exams, every evening I’m solving the papers from question bank but I’m very sad that I’m forgetting whatever I read”

Namitha (8th std) – “I’m scared, I don’t know how the question paper will be, it should be a easy one”

Along with the children, the staffs are also worried. Till the end of all the exams, the whole centre will be filled with this pressure.

Kids at FF: Among the 17 residential kids at FF, two kids are working, two kids have written I PU exams and are moving to II PU, 13 other kids are going to school (six are in 10th std, one in 9th std, three are in 8th std, one in 4th std & two are in 2nd std). The entire school going kids are in their pre-exam period and each one are facing the exam tensions in their own way. And this stress is specifically relevant in the children who are in higher classes of 8th to 10th stds.

Vishal...3rd from left
Vishal...3rd from left

Vishal aged 17yrs. was brought to Freedom Foundation at the age of 3 ½ yrs. from St. Catherine’s home, Bombay. He was found abandoned at a railway station when he was 2 months old and was picked up by the staff of St. Catherine’s home and cared for till 3+ years before coming to FF. Diagnosed with HIV he has come down with various infections during the years and was put on treatment for HIV in 2008 and continues to be on medication. This has resulted in great improvement of his health.

When he came to FF, he was put in Nursery and he studied in Tamil Medium till his 7th standard. He was shifted to English Medium in std VIII. As he was below average in his studies, he was not able to manage; he failed once in std VIII and twice in his IX std. So he discontinued his studies since April 2014.

He is very much interested & talented in drawing. His body is rhythmic to dance and he is a very good dancer.

He was not interested in studies; he was counseled and taken to a consultant Psychologist with the complaints of forgetfulness, difficulties in writing, reading & arithmetic. On Binet Kamat Test of Intelligence he obtained a mental age of 8yrs and a prorated IQ of 64, indicating he is functioning at a level of mild mental retardation. On Vineland Social Maturity Scale, he obtained a Social Age of 8 yrs & 6 mths and a Social Quotient of 59. On NIMHANS Index of Specific Learning Disability, his attention was adequate, but had severe difficulties in all the areas of learning due to below average level of intelligence.

After discontinuation from school, to keep him engaged, with the help of Dr.Vijayaraman, he has joined for training in Art – Pilot class being conducted at St. John’s hospital every Saturday. Through this, he will be assessed and admitted to regular training classes later. He has also been suggested to look for a job-oriented certification course in art which will help him to move forward. But this is a challenge as we approached many institutes where he requires a minimum SSLC qualification.

His rehabilitation is a challenge however at FF we are all hopeful that something good will happen and he will eventually be able to stand on his own two feet and support himself in the outside world when the time comes.

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Organization Information

Freedom Foundation

Location: Bangalore, Karnataka - India
Website: http:/​/​www.thefreedomfoundation.org
Project Leader:
Ashok Rau
Executive Trustee, CEO
Bangalore, Karnataka India
$8,628 raised of $45,900 goal
 
123 donations
$37,272 to go
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