Amelia, an HIV+ Caregiver of a Vulnerable Adolescent, Finds Her Feet Again
April 28th, 2020 | Blogs
April 28th, 2020 | Blogs
If this project had not come to my neighborhood, I would have died by now. I got a second chance through their assistance. I am grateful because I have gained my life back. – Amelia, World Education beneficiary
Amelia’s first husband died of AIDS, leaving her with one child. She remarried, but her second husband divorced her when he discovered that she was HIV-positive. Now, at age 29, she lives in Munhava, a high density, highly impoverished suburb of Beira, Mozambique, raising three children: her 10-year old son, and her niece and nephew, both age 17.
Amelia’s niece became engaged in a World Education initiative which worked to build girls’ skills and agency through girls empowerment clubs, among other approaches. Through this connection, Amelia met volunteers from a local organization, Conselho Cristão de Moçambique (Christian Council of Mozambique – CCM), which is working with World Education to support girls and women.
In Mozambique, World Education is partnering with groups like CCM through the Child and Community Strengthening (Força à Comunidade e Crianças – FCC) project, which works to reduce the socio-economic impact of HIV on children and their caregivers by enhancing the capacity of families and communities to support, protect, and care for them. The FCC initiative looks holistically at families’ needs, connecting people with resources that help them overcome their challenges related to HIV, including poverty, poor health, and lack of education.
After meeting with a CCM volunteer, Amelia enrolled in a village savings and loan (VSLA) group, which helps ensure that women and families have the resources needed to care for their vulnerable children.
After a few months, however, as her health declined, Amelia stopped attending meetings. After missing three monthly VSLA group activities, her fellow VSLA members alerted CCM about Amelia’s absence. To follow-up and learn why she had left the group, CCM sent Rosa, a volunteer, to visit Amelia’s home.
Rosa found Amelia bedridden, wasted, and frail. Amelia had been diagnosed with HIV and tuberculosis but had stopped taking her medications because she did not have enough to eat and had experienced painful side effects from the treatment.
Rosa and other staff from CCM counseled Amelia and referred her to the nearby health clinic so that she could resume antiretroviral treatment. Volunteers trained by World Education provided psychosocial support sessions to help Amelia regain confidence and self-esteem.
Because she didn’t have enough food, the CCM team also referred Amelia to the District Service for Health, Women and Social Action (SDSMAS), one of the government departments with which World Education has developed a strong partnership. SDSMAS was able to provide Amelia with supplemental food and she is now taking her ART medication regularly.
In the Beira area where Amelia lives, the World Education team has referred more than 7,123 people to learn their HIV status over the past three years.
World Education’s program is helping people who test HIV positive, like Amelia, to ensure they are enrolled and receive antiretroviral treatment. The FCC project supported almost 2,000 beneficiaries from Beira to enroll on ART this year. Because economic resilience is such a critical aspect of HIV treatment and prevention, the project organizes VSLA groups: to date, 2,582 caregivers living with HIV have joined VSLA groups in Beira.
Now that Amelia is back on treatment and feeling better, she has rejoined her VSLA group.
I feel much stronger and am ready to work and improve my situation for the better, she says.
World Education’s Bantwana Initiative implements the Força à Comunidade e Crianças project, an initiative designed to improve and expand evidenced-based models of integrated support for vulnerable children and their households.
Força à Comunidade e Crianças uses schools and communities as platforms to provide information and strategies related to child protection, early childhood education, and broader parenting education and support.
In collaboration with the Government of Mozambique and a range of local implementing partners, World Education uses schools and communities to reach over 125,000 vulnerable children with integrated services to help them thrive and grow into productive and healthy adults.
World Education strives to build lasting relationships with partners across diverse geographic regions and technical sectors to produce better education outcomes for all.