The following is an interview with a 12-year-old orphan due to HIV/AIDS in Kenya. He is learning to live and cope with life in an HIV/AIDS environment. He participates in HEKO (Heritage Kenya Organization) programs.
Question: What was your life like before this project?
Response: My mum used not to balance our meals well. We knew
nothing about health education and the meaning of exercise.
Question: What has your life been like since being part of this project?
Response: There is now a great change in our lives since mum is cooking a well balanced diet despite challenges in putting food on the table due to irregular income.
Question: What is your family situation?
Response: It has improved because of our mum’s effort to take care of my brother and I. We all attend and participate in HEKO programs. We need educational support.
Question: What has been your happiest moment since being part of this project?
Response: How to balance the meals from breakfast to supper and when we all participate as a family in HEKO programs and activities especially sports.
Question: What have you personally changed since being part of this project?
Response: My health has changed. Nutritionally, I feel strong and invigorated due to regular intake of balanced food prepared by mum who sometimes brings home food items from HEKO.
Question: What is something you would like the donors to know about you or the project or tell them in general?
Response: Continue with nutrition and health programs. Encourage mothers, particularly those who participate in HEKO programs, to come if possible with their children
We love to tell you stories of the lives that are positively affected by our HIV/AIDS project. As you can imagine, there are very few patients willing to have their names and stories posted on the internet. The stigma that goes along with being HIV+ in Africa is still very evident, so many of our patients ask for anonymity.
We recently received an email from the director of HEKO and thought we’d share an excerpt of how 2012 has begun for them, challenges and all…..
As we welcome 2012, we also proudly reflect on the tremendous achievements we realized in our project activities through the improvement of Health and Nutritional status of people living with HIV/AIDS in the slums of Kibera, through your valuable financial support in the past year.
Our outstanding challenges, though many are within our reach. It is our prayers that we jointly continue to concentrate our efforts in enhancing and expanding the services by creating more opportunities of hope to the hopeless families devastated by the effect of HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Last year we experienced economic threats due to severe drought, calamities and inflation due to high cost of basic commodities which made it difficult for us to meet some of our targets. Kenya has been besieged by rocketing prices of key foods, fuel products and other basic needs. This runaway surge in the cost of basic living is probably an eye-opener to redefine our priorities in mitigating the negative impact of HIV/AIDS among the target population we work with.
I am confident that with your prayers and continued support we at HEKO will emerge victorious and a united team.
The Government of Ghana subsidizes the treatment and drugs for many people who have been infected with HIV/AIDS. However, patients are expected to pay $5 a month to enable them to access the necessary drugs at the hospital. Furthermore, patients having HIV/AIDS virus who are not covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) have to completely pay for treatment if they contract another disease, such as malaria.
Unfortunately, most of the HIV/AIDS victims are unable to pay the NHIS premium of $15 and the $5 for the drugs.
At our Grace HIV/AIDS project in Sunyani, Ghana, because of the generous partnership with our artists and members who support our HIV/AIDS + healthcare project, we are able to pay the NHIS premium for some of those people at the end of every month.
Mocha Club sends money to the Sunyani Regional Hospital through the Medical Director for the purchase of ART drugs. The hospital authorities and the pharmacists distribute the drugs according to needs of the patients.
In the picture above, you can see a presentation being made to the Sunyani Hospital HIV/AIDS clinic in payment for drugs for 150 infected persons.
Shaking hands on behalf of 150 people? Sounds like a good day in Ghana.
In 2011, HEKO decided to prioritize prevention measures by focusing on health and nutrition education, care and support through the promotion of sports and youth risk free activities.
And in the last few months, HEKO has seen this focus on sports and education make great strides in the lives of the people they work with.
500 students were engaged in sports and youth friendly risk-free activities on HIV/AIDS education prevention and awareness.
50 peer educators were trained during 2011 to enhance their capacity to reach the other youth in the Most-At-Risk population on issues of HIV. They encouraged the youth that they met to access counseling and referral for testing on HIV status, sexually transmitted infections as well as education on reproductive health.
30 community social workers associated with HEKO carried out outreach campaigns. Sessions were held to elicit greater access and better utilization of HIV treatment by sharing information on how ART works, who qualifies, where it can be accessed and how to support adherence to ART. (ART is Antiretroviral Treatment.)
5 HEKO health and social volunteer workers transferred nursing care skills to caregivers of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) and also provided psychosocial support to PLWHA (people living with HIV/AIDS).
It is amazing to see the reach that $7 a month can make in the HIV/AIDS prevention and education projects!
In Sunyani, Ghana, there are two farming seasons. Built around the two rainy seasons, Ghanaian farmers are able to farm twice a year, growing produce that will provide for their families.
Everyone in the family works on the farm – parents and children. But when one family member gets diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, it shakes the entire family… and the farm. Sadly, the immediate response isn’t questions about getting better or getting the right medications, Ghanaian farmers with HIV/AIDS begin to wonder who will take their place.
Just like in this family…
I am forty–five years old and a farmer. My husband joined his ancestors four years ago with the HIV-AIDS, leaving behind three children.
This woman, also infected by HIV/AIDS virus, is being treated at our Grace AIDS clinic in Sunyani. Because of your $7 donation, she is one of the 100+ people that are receiving the necessary medication to continue to live a healthy life, as a mother and a farmer. Though she lost her husband to the disease, we are working hard to ensure that she survives this and is able to continue to provide for her family and work on the farm.
We get stories, as well, from those who survive, like this man’s testimony…
For how I got it [HIV/AIDS] I do not know even up to now. I was in the farm one day when I felt some pain on my left side of the body which later affected my whole body. In fact, I went to hospital on several occasions, and it was during that period my lab test proved HIV Positive. However, I thank [Mocha Club] for keeping me healthy through the drugs. I am still working on my farm.
That is our goal. That is our hopes. When someone is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the Sunyani farming region, the question of who will run the farm has an easy answer. With proper medical treatment and counseling from the Grace AIDS clinic, the farmer himself (or herself) can continue to do just that- run the farm.
We were excited to receive these pictorial updates from the Heritage Kenya Organization (HEKO), an organization that we partner with to help improve the lives of 480 families affected by HIV/AIDS in the Kibera slums of Kenya.
Click on these pictures to enlarge them and see the variety of needs that are being met at HEKO every day for many families.
Though we often do not show pictures from our HIV/AIDS projects, we were given permission to show our members all the good things that are going on because of your donation of $7 a month.
Through the Grace HIV/AIDS project, we partner with Sunyani Regional Hospital in Ghana to provide monthly assistance for over 100 people infected with HIV, including Anti-retroviral drugs (ARV’s) and support for nursing mothers and others with HIV. Grace offers a holistic approach
Shockingly, it only costs $5 a month in Ghana for the ARV’s necessary to keep a person with HIV alive – but some of the poorest people cannot even afford these inexpensive and life-giving treatments.
Because of the giving of Mocha Club members, HIV/AIDS victims are able to access drugs free of charge each month. Initially the project was covering 60 patients but the number has been increased to 107 patients per month.
In Ghana many believe HIV/AIDS is a curse from God so victims of the disease are stigmatized. The orphans are left to cater for themselves. Victims who are mostly women and divorced and the men are neglected by the society. Majority of the victims are peasant farmers whose per capitol incomes are below $300 and are unable to work. They and their dependants therefore suffer financially and psychologically.
Char and Skiff visited the Sunyani Regional Hospital on their Mocha Club Experience trip. Watch the video below to see how the hospital runs and to see your $7 at work!
Each month, when you give $7/month to the HIV/AIDS project in Africa, your money goes straight to helping people that have HIV/AIDS or care for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Each month, we care for over 100 patients living with this disease. Our partners on the ground did some interviews recently with these patients and this is what they had to say about the help their receive from Mocha Club….
“[Mocha Club] medical help has made me strong and active. I couldn’t eat before but now I am able to eat as normal as any normal healthy person does. I used to have a severe headache but now because of [Mocha Club] it has stopped because I am always on the correct medicine.”
“I was weightless and unable to do anything. I used to have stomach pains but [Mocha Club] has made me strong and fit and no more stomach aches. Thank you for your medical care.”
“May God keep [Mocha Club] on track because they have made me forget I even have this problem of suffering from HIV/AIDS. I only remember when it is time for me to take medicine. I am always happy and confident in life thank you [Mocha Club].”
“Due to the free medical sponsorship and personal support by the leadership, I have always been active and healthy enough to even go to the farm anytime to work. [Mocha Club] thank you for the genuine love.”
“I don’t even know how to bless and thank [Mocha Club] because their free medicine to me every month has contributed a lot to my health situation. It is even hard for someone to suspect me with this virus for I am always looking good and healthy. May you live long [Mocha Club].”
“…[Mocha Club] has always been keeping me stronger and healthy.”
. . . . . . . . . .
**due to privacy laws and our desire to protect the HIV/AIDS patients, no pictures or names can be used in HIV/AIDS updates.**
Some of the women served through HEKO (photo by Natalina Marlow)
The HEKO Projectin Kenya is one of Mocha Club’s HIV/AIDS + Health Care projects. Thank you for your heart to help these women!
Now, please meet…
I am a widow due to HIV/AIDS and a mother of two and have suffered a lot of discrimination and stigma. But I am grateful for constant support through the HEKO program. I am still faced with the challenge of how to support my two children aged 4 & 7 but my life has been greatly helped by HEKO.
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My family and I are grateful to HEKO for reaching out to us when we were desperate for attention. May the Almighty God give you grace and abundant long life. Your regular social support is highly appreciated, especially food vouchers which arrived at the right time when we had nothing to put on the table for our family. Thank you so much and God bless you!
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I am a widow due to HIV/AIDS but my life has changed for the better since I came into contact with HEKO and African Leadership. Thank you for your financial assistance and other social support that has helped improve my life status and that of my children.
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When I tested HIV+, I broke down in distress and was frustrated. My challenge was how to take care of myself and my 3 children, but I am grateful to the HEKO program for reaching out to us. Thank you so much for your compassion.
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I have every reason to thank God for African Leadership for their compassion towards families affected and infected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. May God continue to bless you all.