HIV Care and Nutrition Program (UKUN)

by East Africa Aid Foundation
May 20, 2013

UKUN Volunteer Diary (Week two)

Abdullah Profile Picture
Abdullah Profile Picture

My second week was very busy with trip to Dar to get supplies and learning about UKUN’s clients. This week was also told by Charles that UKUN needs to move into a cheaper building by end of the month, which is in 2 weeks time (we need to leave this building by 30th March!).  

I went to Dar Es Salaam to pick up medical stock of supplies for the office. These were things like; gauze, dressings, medication and gloves. The money was donated from a donor from USA through East Africa Aid and sent via Western Union. I had a friend to help me to bring the stock to Bagamoyo in a local bus. Now we have supplies at least for few months!

This week I met Abdullah who is one of our clients. He is 17 year old boy, with the appearance of about 12 as he is very underweight. He was born HIV positive. His both parents died of AIDS 5 years ago. After their death his grandmother took care of him until she died too just over year ago. Now Abdullah lives with his auntie but there is a lot of stigma within the family against HIV so Abdullah doesn’t feel welcome there. He has been coming to the clinic daily all week. He watches TV, sleeps and sometimes eats when we give him something. He never asks for anything. He has been complaining of cough for a while so we took him to the hospital for TB investigation.

When we arrived to the TB investigation unit we needed to find his file first. He is known as the ‘lost of follow up’ as he doesn’t turn up to his appointments at the HIV department. After finding his file he was seen by a doctor straight away. We reported his cough, gave history (he has had TB in the past) and the doctor requested chest X-ray. The X-ray showed some shadowing right lung spread to the left lung so they were querying if he has pulmonary TB. After this we went back to the doctor who then examined him from head to toe and listened to his chest, which he said  was fine and he let me to it too. He said to confirm TB we need a sputum sample for AFB but unfortunately Abdullah is not producing any at the moment. He was started on strong antibiotics Septrin 960mg twice a day for 7 days and given 2 sputum pots in case he produces any cough. He has to bring them to the hospital to be able to confirm TB. If those antibiotics do not clear the possible chest infection after 7 days he will be started on TB treatment anyway. Abdullah is a quiet boy, he doesn’t say much but I can see his sadness. I hope we will become good friends.

Few people came for HIV testing at the clinic too this week, about 2 a day. I was told that I will not be able to test people because of the language barrier. Whoever does the testing, need to do the counselling too.

We went to see 2 clients in their homes:  Semeni and Captain.  We travelled to Semeni’s house first by Tuc Tuc; small 2 seated taxi that has originated from India.  She lives close to Bagamoyo town with her parents and other family who all look after her well. I did not recognize any stigma at all.  Semeni is 33 yrs old, she has 2 daughters (plus she has lost 3) and no husband. She has been diagnosed with HIV about 5-6 yrs. Last year she lost a baby due to very low CD4 count; her CD4 was 9 at the time! Now her CD4 has come up to 325 (last Sep 2012) and she has put on weight. She has a ‘drop foot’ her left leg and finds it difficult to mobilise.

She reported that she has had Malaria now since the 27th Feb so around 2 weeks and she is on medication and recovering. Before her illness she was able to mobilise 0.5km independently with just a stick but now she can do only very small transfers and needs help as she has weakened.  On her appointment with malaria investigation, she was also given her Antiretrovirals (ARVs) for two months. I gave her my number just in case she needs to contact with anything but at the moment she seems fine and she has all her family to support her. Her story really is a success and a good example of been able to recover with great support and doing physiotherapy (exercises).  She seems to have a lot of motivation and she is very much loved.

After that we went to see Mr Captain. He has been a client for many years as well. We found him in his room that was in a bad state, the smell was disgusting. He hadn’t had a wash for over a one month. His urine can was full, bed sheet ripped and almost black colour. I do not know how he was able to live there but obviously he had no choice. Unlike Semeni Captain’s family does not help or support him. Stigma exists there very much. Lots of his family live around him but no one helps with anything. This is very sad. I have to come all the way from Europe to clean his room and give him a wash! Captain appears thin, he is not able to mobilise and uses a wheelchair but no one had pushed him outside out of his room for over a month! He smells bad and does not look happy.

I gave him a good wash in a shower and then we did his laundry with Charles. Charles got him clean clothes to wear and I bought soap, washing powder, water to drink and Dettol to disinfect his dirty clothes and the bed sheet. He was very happy.

Next day we went back to him and took him to hospital to his appointment for HIV centre. He was given more medication (ARVs). After hospital we took him back to his house and I cleaned his room and finished his laundry. One of his neighbours cut his nails (at least!). I will be going there to visit him regularly now and to shower him every 3 days. I am happy to have finally found ‘famous’ Mr. Captain and I am so happy I am able to help him. I wish his family would be more supportive but maybe I will find a way somehow to do that.

Abdullah having his lunch
Abdullah having his lunch
Captain at home
Captain at home

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East Africa Aid Foundation
Project Leader:
Tarek El-Shayal
New York, NY United States

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