Jul 14, 2012

What about growing adolescents living with HIV? - The emerging need

The advancements in care and treatment for HIV has brought in hope to many children and young people living with HIV, to live and contribute much to the society. As this success is seen,the challenge in helping children born with HIV and who have grown into adolescence is often neglected in our current programmes. The issue becomes more complex for adolescents ,especially girls from lower income group , and under the care of grandparents and widowed mothers. The reason being, mostly of the adolescents show lack of interest in studies and often perform poor in academics. Thanks to the department of education in allowing children pass till their 9th grade that they go to school, but in their 10th grade, most of them have not been able to pass the grade .On comparing the performance of adolescents enrolled with the center, more number of girls have failed than the boys.

Such girls, especially those brought up by grandparents; do not show interest in pursuing their studies further and with limited opportunities for other vocational courses (if one has failed) most of them have to be in their homes.This has resulted in greater vulnerabilities,especially among young girls in rural areas where marriages younger than 15  years of age are common.In addition most often the adolescents become the care takers and decision-makers at homes headed by grandparents.This has resulted young girls living with HIV to engage in casual and sexual relationships .Some have gone further in arranging marriages on their own and without informing the partner their status.

Recently within a span of three months ,we have come across two instances of a 15 year old and 17 year old young girls living with HIV who have failed in their 10th exams and looked after by their grandparents have got engaged in such relationships. In one instance when we visited the family we learnt that the grandparents were not aware of the HIV transmission routes, especially through sexual intercourse and had thought ARV medicines as a cure for HIV. In both the instances, the girls themselves have taken decisions and gone ahead with marriages.

Positive prevention education for young people living with HIV is essential and very crucial at the moment.
The emerging needs:
  • Hospitals to be made more youth friendly for young adolescents living with HIV to access information about HIV and their health
  • Equipping counselors with information and skills in handling adolescent children
  • Partnerships with CBO’s and NGO’s strengthened to ensure effective follow-up of young people and their care takers
  • Effective programmes, like life skills, support groups for young people to help them plan and make responsible and safe choices of their future.
  • Care takers, especially grandparents have to be oriented on the complete details of HIV.

Jul 5, 2012

Keeping children in school builds them as responsible children

My brother,Ramu (name changed) has become a man says a 9 year old girl about her  14 year old brother. When we asked how do you say that she expressed “he knows to smoke and even drinks and plays cards with his friends”
This is the condition of the boy and girl who had lost their parents when they were small and looked after by their aged aunt and uncle. The boy was stopped from school by his aunt when he was 12 years to support the income of the family. In spite of persuasion from our end to encourage him to go to school, his aunt was very firm about the decision. Now after 2 years though ramu is still a child has become independent in making his choice over drinking and smoking and even becoming violent against his aunt.

Currently of the 200 children we reach through Buds of Christ, 25 are children without both parents and about 90 are living with their widowed mother. In this condition many families struggle hard to send the children to school. It is to such families, Buds of Christ provides support through school bags, note books, uniforms and study guides to encourage children to be in school and prevent situation as that of Ramu.

On 23rd of June at Buds of Christ, Tiruchengode, about 70 children of the center have been distributed with note books and uniforms this year primarily focusing on girl children and semi-orphan children from very difficult circumstances. The support has built in confidence among children in pursuing higher goals and not limited by their family circumstances.