It's the donors at Tiny Tim & Friends who are pivotal to our work. We wanted to share with you the story of one donor and why she supports our work.
GANDHI SAID "BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD", DR. TIM WAS THE CHANGE......HIS PASSION ENGAGED MY HEART"
Written by Eileen Leo, TTF Donor:
"I will never forget how I first heard about Tiny Tim & Friends and how I came to meet Dr. Tim, his lovely parents, Betty and Tom, Tiny Tim, his terrific young son, and his wonderful siblings.
I don’t usually read the Edina Sun newspaper, but that day I was skimming it and noticed a short article about a Fundraiser for a local non-profit, Tiny Tim & Friends, to support the work of Dr. Tim Meade, a pediatric HIV/AIDS specialist in Zambia.
Curious to know more, I found Betty and Tom’s phone number, called, and enjoyed a lovely chat with Betty who warmly invited me to attend the fundraiser. In listening to Dr. Tim tell the story of Tiny Tim & Friends and show photos of the children and the work they do I was captivated by his passion and zeal, the ongoing efforts of the Clinic’s team, and the amazing progress of hundreds of children when tested and begun on a regimen of medicine.
Dr. Tim’s presentation enlarged my world and engaged my heart. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Dr. Tim was the change."
"Tom and Betty Meade launched Tiny Tim & Friends to support their son’s work, and to tell the world about the children in Zambia and how we can help. They have made 7 or 8 trips to visit the clinic compound in Lusaka, Zambia!!
Their crowning jewel is Tiny Tim, Dr. Tim’s wonderful son. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a few times when he and his Dad visited “Grandma and Grandpa” who hosted fun fundraisers every summer. Betty and Tom’s charisma is something to be experienced! It was infectious; I wanted to do something to help and be a part of their work. I offered to make quilts to sell at a fundraiser. Little did I know that Tom would build a beautiful quilt rack !!!
Many of my friends have purses, baskets, and jewelry made by talented Zambian women. The very personal connection I felt when I found their names written on a little piece of paper in the purse, or on the bottom of a basket. I am the richer for having the women’s beautifully woven colorful baskets in my home, for carrying their purses knitted out of colorful plastic bags, proudly telling the story of Tiny Tim & Friends."
"please join us in being an ongoing part of the team at tiny tim......there's room for you on the path!"
"I have saved every newsletter filled with clinic updates, progress celebrated, photos, interning college students who have caught Dr. Tim’s passion, ongoing concerns, new endeavors, ways to help.
The bliss and the blisters. And the blessed. I am blessed for having known Dr. Tim. I always wanted to go to Zambia to visit and volunteer for a month or so, maybe help in the school. I never did go to Zambia but never will lose my heartfelt connection and commitment to the children and to Dr. Tim’s dream. I decided to honor Dr. Tim by becoming a monthly donor and be an ongoing part of the team. Thanks to Betty and Tom Meade, “Tiny Tim & Friends” has hundreds of people walking the path behind Dr. Tim.
Please join us…there’s room for you on the path.
For the love of children and in memory of Dr. Tim, thank you."
THE POWER OF A STRONG PEER MENTOR
In Zambia there are few people who feel confident in sharing their story about HIV. People are fearful of discrimination. But often people need someone to relate to, that they can look up to and know that they aren't the only one.
Many of the comments we hear from the children who attend our support groups is that they often feel very alone. Like they are the only one living with HIV. Many of the children we see are double orphans and they can often equate HIV with death, leaving them to look bleakly upon the future. Because of this they often stigmatize themselves.
Self stigma can lead to isolation, with a child withdrawing from friends, family and school. Children need reassurance that they are not alone. This is where our Children's Retreat support groups come in.
The children's retreat's run over 6 sessions during the weekends. Children learn about HIV, medication, what is stigma, what is discrimination, and how to lead a healthy life. Alongside building knowledge and confidence, the children form friendships and support networks.
Support networks are so vital in vulnerable children's lives. And hearing from adolescents and young adults who are living positively is essential to provide inspiration to the children, that they too can be successful.
Each children's retreat a peer mentor comes to the final session to talk about how they are living a positive life. In last month's final group our peer mentor pulled out at the last minute. Luckily our staff counselor was quick to step in to share her story.
Sharing you status when you are living with HIV is an incredibly personal decision to make. But for those who make the choice, the impact they can have on children, parents and families is huge. Showing that you are living a healthy life, that sharing your story hasn't lead to rejection from the community is empowering for people.
Seeing that someone living with HIV is successful, either in completing school, in work or in life in general gives children hope. Hope that they can too be healthy. Hope that they can complete school and go onto do a job they love. Hope that their future isn't as bleak as they once thought. That hope combined with education and skills development is life changing.
It's been two years since we relocated the TTF Clinic out of a cramped room at Dr. Tim's Clinic and over to our own stand alone facility - thanks to the support of our donors around the globe this is the impact that has been made possible in changing peoples lives. Helping HIV+ children live healthily and working towards a world where no child has HIV!.
By Jac Connell, Acting Country Director
When a child is HIV+ there comes a time in their life when their parent or caregiver (if they are an orphan) will need to tell them that they are living with HIV (*known as disclosure).
This is an incredibly difficult thing for a caregiver to do. Many parents and caregivers don't have the right HIV knowledge or the confidence to share with their child their status. Fear of anger, rejection and being unable to answer your child's questions often prevent parents from talking about HIV.
At the TTF Clinic we provide support groups called Mbuya Daisy, to help parents of patients over the age of 7 to disclose to their child.
I recently sat in a group for their final sessions of Mbuya Daisy (early disclosure) before the parents were sent away to share with their child their status.
I don't often sit in on support groups. My presence is sometimes distracting for staff and participants and they usually communicate in local languages. My Nyanja is very poor - so whilst my brain is trying to figure out what one person said the conversation has quickly moved on.
Within this one group though the emotion went beyond language. I think anyone can comprehend the difficulty a parent must feel in telling their child they are living with an illness. But no illnesses come with as much stigma in Zambia as HIV. Mothers can often feel huge levels of guilt about transmitting the virus to their child.
During a role play where the care givers act out a disclosure process, the mother who was acting in the role as the child broke down. The emotions among all the participants was palpable, many with tears in their eyes, including myself. Imagining how a child must feel in receiving such news is something we can never understand. But supporting these parents is an essential part of treatment.
This is where HIV treatment goes beyond the medicine. These programs are essential in ensuring that HIV+ children can lead healthy lives. That they understand the virus. That they understand the importance of medication. And that they can be provided HIV education that helps them deal with stigma and discrimination as they transition into adults.
This is why we continue to need donor support. So that we can help these parents, children and families, to understand HIV and how to lead long, healthy lives.