On a Home Based Care Visit
Fear of an uncertain future
This little boy’s mother is dead, his father is dead, now his uncle is mortally ill with Aids, only he and his grandmother are left. If Grandmother gets sick he will be all alone. We need to fund our outreach workers so that they can monitor his welfare and call on the Children’s Village for their support.
One missed Visit
Then we saw Sara. Sara and her family who live in this very remote area and she had recently missed an appointment at her local CTC (Care & Treatment Centre). Local is a misnomer, it is at least two to three hours walking or if you’re lucky a ride on a motorbike (piki piki) to reach these centres. HIV/Aids patients must attend once a month to be checked and to receive their ARV drugs. She was then too afraid to go and within a month was skeletal and near death. Against the odds she has survived and is slowly improving. The home based care visits have been a lifeline for this family, ensuring that Sara keeps her appointments, helping with transport and extra nutrition until she is recovered.
A LITTLE SUPPORT WILL GO A LONG WAY
In another household, the family were grieving the loss of a husband, who had refused to get tested. The stigma attached to HIV/Aids is very powerful, especially amongst the male population. The mother needs a lot of encouragement to go for testing herself, this is one of the major challenges here.
Who will grow the food and look after these children if she becomes sick? This is the strength of the outreach workers, villagers themselves, they have the best chance of persuading her to get tested.
Mika the miracle boy
Mika met Dr Leena at Mdabulo Clinic, two weeks previously, she had not expected him to live, he was very sick and needed desperately to be X-rayed; tuberculosis afflicts many HIV/Aids patients. Mika’s father was at the end of his tether, he had used what little money he had getting his son to the CTC but there are, as yet, no X-Ray facilities in our area. It is at least three hours by car and people have difficulties finding sufficient money to cover the costs. With the help of Dr Leena and Dr Ndenga of Mdabulo and some telephone calls, Mika was taken to Iringa Hospital, four hours by car. We were all amazed to see him walking along the road!!! A brief check up, a gift of some high protein milk powder and he continued on his way, a small miracle!
This is just a glimpse of the difficulties faced by the people in this area. Normally independent and self sufficient, the death of so many working age men and women has made even the cultivation of land for food difficult as only the old people and children are left to do the work. Incomes, already minimal are reduced and it becomes ever more difficult to pay for travel costs to get health care or hospital treatment, although the government is now covering the cost of AVR drugs, which has been a huge benefit in the battle against this disease.
The funding of a small generator to cover frequent power cuts, and an X-Ray facility at Mdabulo would make the world of difference,. The difference between life and death.
The Children’s Village
A typical Children’s Village household, mixed ages and genders, just as it would be in a conventional family and dedicated house mamas or fathers. There’s just a few more in this family although, I think some of the neighbours are there for a visit! As the children get older the boys live at house No 3 with Joseph, our social worker, as their house father.
Hezron, 21, the boy with the biggest smile of all!
Born in 1997, he has cerebral palsy and was living with his grandmother in very bad conditions when he came to the Children’s Village in 2007.
Here he is, in the early days, attempting to get on his feet. Although he now can’t walk at all, he still has the biggest smile!
Mama Ene, in the photo, who has looked after Hezron since he arrived in the Children’s Village, has just sadly let him go to live with the other boys at House No 3. She said he was her best helper!
Hezron has a wheelchair now and is enjoying going to school at last, thanks to the school mini bus. Many thanks to a donor for the generous gift which has literally opened up a whole new world for Hezron.
Some of the newest arrivals, all together in House No 2, the Baby house. Some of the babies are very young, even new born, and can be very vulnerable. Some may be HIV positive as well which will mean constant medication and a tendency to infections. Of the six new babies, four have lost their mothers in childbirth.
The bereaved family find it very difficult for to cope with a new born that requires bottle feeding. Buying the milk powder is beyond their means, sterilising equipment very difficult in homes with no running water or drainage and the babies are often very frail. Hopefully some of these tiny ones will be able to return to their remaining family when they are older and stronger.
This is Baby Gloria, who arrived in June 2016, three weeks old and weighing less than 3 Kilograms. She has a cleft lip and a partial cleft palate which causes her problems with feeding and even with breathing.
When she’s 18 months and has gained enough weight, she will be able to have an operation to repair the cleft lip and palate. Thanks to the house mamas she is a happy baby, gaining weight and enjoying her milk.
Thanks to the dedicated care of these amazing house mamas these infants have the best chance of life.
The babies, in the Children’s Village and in the wider community owe their chance of a healthy life to the remarkable and unsung Milk Powder Programme.
In our Outreach work HIV infected nursing mothers are encouraged to join the programme
and to bottle feed their babies with Formula in order to prevent the transmission of HIV from their mothers. The Outreach workers also keep an eye out for any underweight infants and toddlers in their areas as they too can be enrolled on the programme to receive Formula or Lishe (porridge) powder. The programme ensures regular weighing, monitoring and education for the mothers in nutrition, family planning, hygiene etc. The Milk Powder Programme is a vital part of our work to recovery of this community now and in the future.
Nache and his friends.
At last Nache, the tall boy on the left, is fit and well enough to go to school and play with his friends, thanks to improved health and the new school ‘bus’. Before that he was simply too ill.
He arrived in the Children’s Village, in 2013, having had a tough life, his mother had stopped his HIV treatment and he had contracted tuberculosis, also untreated.
Since his arrival he has been so ill, frequently in hospital, lungs damaged, white blood cell count almost non existent that every one learned to hope for the best for Nache but feared the worst. Thanks to the care of all at the Children’s Village and all the healthcare volunteers over the years, he is now much better, is catching up on his schooling and joining in all the usual boy’s activities.
We are grateful to all our donors who have helped by your contributions to save Nache’s life. As well as supporting the day to day running of the Children’s Village your money pays for hospital stays and medicines for children like Nache.
Website Photos by Photographers Without Borders, One Sky, Staff, Volunteers and Visitors, with many thanks.