On December 20th, 2012, Shukuru, a 9 year old HIV positive boy, passed away from complications stemming from Tuberculosis. He didn’t have to. His Mother had stopped taking HIV medication, and had stopped her son from taking medication as well. Shukuru’s Mother passed away almost exactly one month before Shukuru on November 22nd, and Shukuru joined the family at Igoda Children’s Village. Though he started on medication immediately after arriving here- treatment was too late.
Shukuru’s death touched the family here at the Children’s Village deeply. Although he was only with us a short time, it brings back memories of other children who’ve passed. Shukuru’s death also showed us all that there is still a ways to go with HIV education in this area- that even after the incredible strides that have been made towards access to treatment, and education about the disease, there are still hurdles to clear.
Shukuru’s funeral was a stirring scene. The entire Children’s Village, including all of the guardians, and those working on contracts in the garden and otherwise, with over 70 children all walked to the burial site which was just in Igoda village. It was a powerful image of unity as everyone was singing funeral songs, and the message to the community was clear that we are all here for the children. At the funeral Jenny Peck was asked to speak on behalf of everyone at the Children’s Village. She gave an emotional speech about how this community no longer suffers from AIDS, but suffers from silence. She asked the community to forbid this behaviour in the future. She asked how many knew that Shukuru’s medication had been stopped, and how many could have said something either to the family or village leadership. She said that all of us share the responsibility of this child’s death, and in order for us to build our community we must not be afraid of this disease. She asked why it was that everyone contributed to funerals, and not as much for the treatment of sick relatives and neighbors. Finally she pleaded with everyone to build this community together, and stop these needless deaths.
It was an emotionally draining day, and many in the community have been talking over the Children’s Village’s presence at the funeral, and in particular, Jenny’s moving speech. A few days after the funeral, members of the Seventh Day Adventist church, many of whom were present for Jenny’s speech, donated 50,000/= for the treatment of a woman with cerebral palsy who’s been staying at the Children’s Village. We are excited to see more community-based contributions like these in the New Year. As HIV treatment is now widely available, focus can be placed on prevention now, and we can now dream of stopping this disease once and for all.
Home Based Care
This month we completed the second Home Based Care training, and added 12 new volunteers from 6 new villages! Home Based Care Volunteers are trained to give basic first aid, health education, and HIV counseling and advice. The volunteers directly help give the community a much-needed boost in better quality of health services. Health facilities are few and far between in our area, and so these volunteers bridge this resource gap by visiting people in their homes. Too many patients can often crowd health facilities with very simple problems such as headaches, or joint pain. At the same time, many patients wait too long to seek treatment often waiting until it is too late for health professionals to care for them. The volunteers in this program are trained to help the community use the existing health resources to their fullest potential, so the Home Based Care Program helps improve services at Mdabulo Hospital for example. The Mdabulo CTC is also helped as the volunteers follow up on every patient enrolled to make sure treatment continues. Home Based Care volunteers also follow up with the Mothers in the Milk Powder Program to ensure Mothers and families are helping to prevent the transmission of HIV. By expanding to the Ihanu ward, the home based care program will help prepare whole new communities for the health challenges of future generations.
Igoda Primary School Results
For the duration of 2012 Secondary School graduates who come from difficult backgrounds themselves, many of whom are orphans themselves, have been helping in the evenings to teach the children at the Igoda Children’s Village extra lessons. We were hoping this would be a win-win scenario as the extra income for the tutors would help them start their adult lives, and the extra tutoring would help the children from the Children’s Village advance in school, as many of them were starting school at a very late age. The results could hardly have been better! Igoda Primary School results came out this year, and nearly every top spot in each grade is taken up by a child from the Children’s Village. We are excited that this one project is making a difference in so many children’s lives.