Blessings, 14, is shy. I can see she has a lot of potential if she was given the right opportunities in life. But she doesn't make friends easily. She stigmatizes herself and withdraws, denying herself the support network she desperately needs to shine.
I sit with her and talk to her about living with HIV. With support from TTF her mum told her she is HIV+. To help her understand what this means Blessings is attending a children's support group. She is learning about HIV and how to live healthily.
She is clever and explains brilliantly about the things she has learned. She says she feels better having made friends at the support group but I know she often sits to the side, quietly taking in the scenes around her, too shy to interact with her peers.
I ask Blessings how she feels about living with HIV. She tells me she feels bad. She says she hears people saying things about people living with HIV that make her feel bad about herself. Even with HIV education she continues to self stigmatize.
But it doesn’t have to be this way for Blessings.
Our staff take their time to get to know her needs beyond HIV treatment, they will help her find a way to feel good about herself.
We make the TTF clinic a place where confidence and independence can be gained. But this doesn't happen overnight and we cant do it alone. More than ever we need your help to change lives.This year we are aiming to raise $20,000 to support the Tiny Tim & Friends Clinic and we need your support.
I urge you to give a child like Blessings a gift this Christmas by donating to Tiny Tim & Friends. Your support ensures Blessings, and many other children like her can get the right treatment, care and counseling they need to thrive in life.
Jac Connell, Director, Tiny Tim & Friends Zambia.
Watch our video and see the impact our donors are having on vulnerable, malnourished children in Zambia.
CELEBRATING THE NEXT TINY TIM
Dr. Tim had such a great impact on the patients and people that we work with. So when one of our community volunteers gave birth to a little boy the day after Tim passed away last year, she decided to name her new born son Tim, to pay tribute to the work he had done to help her and others living with HIV to healthy lives and have healthy HIV negative children.
"Dr. Tim was a man of action, and I hope for my son to grow up to live up to his namesake."
In 2016 TTF ran a Crowd Funding campaign through Caring Crowd to support 50 of the most malnourished patients at Tiny Tim & Friends. Thanks to the support of 79 donors who came together to support our cause, and to Johnson & Johnson who matched every donation, we were successful in reaching our goal.
So in early 2017 we spent time undertaking home visits, to understand the needs of our patients, and identifying those most in need of nutritional support. Finding 25 children and adolescents who were eligible was sadly not difficult.
Many of the children were so malnourished and underweight they were suffering with opportunistic infections and alongside nutritional support also required supervised palliative care to help them get well.
Supporting families with nutritional food packages is easy. But ensuring the children we are supporting are gaining weight and getting healthy is much more complex, involving regular counselling, home assessments, medical interventions and sometimes palliative care.
Thanks to the support of 79 donors through CaringCrowd and from the hard work of our counsellors all of the children gained weight, including one child who gained a massive 9kgs. Stay posted for further stories of each of these children but in the meantime we hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of just a few of the children you have changed the lives of.
AS SOON AS WE ASKED RACHEL'S MOTHER ABOUT FOOD SHE BROKE DOWN IN TEARS
By Jac Connell, Acting Country Director, Tiny Tim & Friends:
A few weeks ago one of the social work team came to my office with a small child, Rachel (aged 2), who had been identified at the Clinic that day as HIV+ and at risk of TB. Weighing only 7.1kgs (15lbs), our counselor, Mwenda, was concerned about malnutrition and wanted to include Rachel on the list of patients who would benefit from our crowd funding campaign, should we be successful.
She was incredibly tiny and I could tell from holding her that she had breathing problems and a persistent cough, a symptom we see often at the clinic and a primary indicator of TB.
As with all of the patients we are considering supporting with nutrition the team usually sit with the family or undertake a home visit to assess what the household is like, how many people the individual lives with and what the income for the household is.
As soon as we asked Elina, Rachel's mother, about food for the family she broke down in tears. She admitted that there was no food at home, as her husband was bedridden with TB and therefore had lost his job. They were totally reliant on her mother in law to provide food and often would survive on only one meal a day.
RACHEL IS VULNERABLE. BEING UNDERWEIGHT PUTS HER AT RISK OF A NUMBER OF ILLNESSES WHICH COULD PROVE FATAL.
Sadly, their story isn't particularly unique to us. They live in a two room house, sharing a pit latrine with their neighbors (17 people in total). Elina had never been to school as a child because her family couldn't afford it and therefore had never been able to get a job herself. Rachel's father is unable to work so they pay their rentals (approx $30 per month) through support from other family members.
Rachel has an older sister, who is 7 and in good health, but who has had to stop going to school after they could no longer pay the school fees.
Rachel has been diagnosed with TB, but without food, both her and her father will struggle to take their medicine, recover and risk passing the disease to her mother. Having only recently started on HIV treatment, Rachel is in a vulnerable situation. Being underweight puts her at risk of picking up any number of illnesses which could prove to be fatal.
We need all of our donors and supporters around the world to come together to support children like Rachel through our crowd funding campaign - by donating you will change a child's life: