In February 2018, TTF USA Board members Tom, Colleen, Kris along with young Tim took a trip to Zambia to reconnect with the staff and see what happening, on the ground.
As always the trip felt way too short, but was a great way to witness how your donations are improving the lives of the patients at the TTF clinic. Being physically present and witnessing the work first hand really makes us feel proud of the work that is being done. We are so fortunate to see the smiling faces of the children and the changes the work of TTF is having on these vulnerable individuals’ lives.
One of the highlights of the trip was on a clinic day, where families come in for check-ups, counselling and to pick up their medication. We were able to hand out a food package of eggs, oil, flour, beans, onion, potatoes, rice and sugar to each of the families who are in the Nutrition Program. We heard stories from the team and patients about how this program had changed children’s lives. Your donations have made this possible.
We saw many pregnant women who are supported with information and tools to prevent the transfer of HIV to their unborn child. Alongside medication, TTF supports these women with birthing hampers. Just a small hamper including a nappy, cotton wool, a blanket, latex gloves, an umbilical cord clamp and disinfectant can mean the difference between birthing at home – or safely at a clinic. It was great to hear the results and successes and that in 2016 & 2017, thanks to you, ZERO babies were born HIV+.
The staff and the patients are so very grateful for all of the donations from you, our supporters. Because of you, TTF is able to provide a complete package medication, nutrition, counseling and social support for entire families. Without your help these families would not be able to live normal healthy lives.
We continue to be grateful to all of our donors for your support. Your donations are changing lives, we have witnessed it many times first hand, but after our visit feel even more compelled to continue our work . Together we can change lives and work towards a generation where no child has HIV.
Watch our video and see the impact our donors are having on vulnerable, malnourished children in Zambia.
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:
PANJI IS DESPARATE TO FINISH SCHOOL BUT HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO ATTEND FOR OVER 6 MONTHS DUE TO POOR HEALTH
Sadly, sometimes patients come to TTF and from their appearance you immediately you know there is a major health problem. This was the case for 19 year old Panji when he was brought to the TTF Clinic earlier this year. Panji is 1.73m (5ft 8) and weighs only 42Kgs (92lbs). He is significantly malnourished and currently undergoing tests to see if he is suffering from Tuberculosis.
His malnutrition, alongside HIV and suspected TB puts his health at significant risk, and without boosting his immune system just a small infection could prove fatal.
Panji's parents died when he was just a child and he now lives in a one room house with 6 other people (his sister (pictured below), brother in law, and four nieces and nephews), sharing a pit latrine with 20 other people. Whilst food in the home is provided by Panji's brother in law, there isn't enough to support Panji in his current state and he is in desperate need of nutritional support. He needs your help to ensure he can go on to finish his education and lead a healthy, successful life.
"I WANT TO FINISH SCHOOL SO I CAN BECOME A DOCTOR AND HELP OTHERS"
Panji, was identified in the community by one of our teen mentors. He had previously been tested for HIV but wasn't yet ready to accept his status. Our staff have been working closely with him to provide him with medical advice and emotional counselling to prepare him to start on medication. But because of his late access to treatment he is incredibly sick and because of his poor health, he has been unable to attend school for the past 6 months. He desperately wants to complete his education so he can make something of his life and help others.
With the right medical, social and nutritional support Panji can go onto lead a healthy life, but we need your donations to support him and 49 other children and adolescents like him to reach our crowdfunding goal. So please consider pledging today and changing Panjis life around for the better!
Esther is a single mother to three small children, living in one of the most urbanely dense compounds in Lusaka. Having not finished school, her employment prospects are limited. She came to our attention when her youngest child, 3 year old Samson, was brought into the clinic suffering with various health issues, he was incredibly underweight for his age. Without a job or a source of income Esther was struggling to feed her children this is her story:
"I don't have a partner so I am responsible for raising my children on my own. We live in a small house and as I don't have a job it can be a real struggle to pay the rent and also buy food for my children. I do small jobs for people to make money here and there but it isn't consistent.
I have been coming to Tiny Tim & Friends for a while now with Samson. Because of the lack of food it has often been difficult to get Samson to take his medication as it makes him feel sick. He is little so doesn't understand why he needs to take his medication and can often become very emotional when he has to take it. Because of the lack of food he was beginning to lose a lot of weight. I felt bad but I didnt know what to do.
One day when I came to Tiny Tim & Friends, Samson was weighed and measured and because he was underweight they told me they wanted to put him on a nutrition programme. That we would get weekly food packages and education about what he should be eating to stay healthy. Each week I came to the Clinic to pick up our food supplies, to check on Samson's progress and to get lessons from Noah on the best way to prepare food to keep the goodness in the ingredients.
I want to thank Tiny Tim & Friends and the people who made this possible. Samson is now very chubby and even my neighbours say he looks so much more healthy and energetic, which is something I didn't think I would see. "
Last week we successfully graduated 8 children out of our nutrition programme after just 3 months. All 8 of these children had gained such a great amount of weight and grown in height that they are now well within the healthy weight range on the BMI index.
Through our nutrition programme, not only have we been able to support these vulnerable children to gain weight and become healthy, but we have also provided their families and caregivers with nutritional support and education needed to ensure that can help their children to have a well balanced diet. The weekly food packages have also allowed families to make small savings in their weekly outgoings to support several of them in investing into their small businesses or paying for school fees.
Thanks to the support of 34 donors who funded our CARINGCROWD CrowdFunding programe at the end of last year. Please stay posted for individual stories on each of these children.
For more information about our nutrition programme and how you can get involved in us helping even more malnourished, vulnerable children to get healthy and get the education they need check out our programme page: Nutrition programme.
We want to share with you the story of just one of the children, whose life has been changed thanks to everyone who donated, through CARINGCROWD, to our Nutrition programme. Gladys is 6 years old and was brought to the Tiny Tim & Friends Clinic last year by her grandmother who was concerned with a persistent cough and considerable weight loss. Upon testing it was discovered she was HIV+. Gladys weighed just 12kgs (26lbs) putting her below the 1st percentile on the BMI index and classifying her as considerably underweight.
Thanks to the donations of 34 people through CARINGCROWD, we were able to enroll Gladys into our Nutrition programme. After only one month on the programme Gladys had gained 4kgs (almost 9lbs) and now is considered as a very healthy weight (at the 78th percentile on the BMI index).
We spoke to her Grandmother, Janet, about the impact the food support and nutritional advice is having for her family:
"I have cared for Gladys for most of her life, as both of her parents have died. I own the family home but we live there with 15 other family members, selling vegetables to make money for food - usually making about 300 kwacha a week to feed the entire family (less than $30).
I took Gladys to the TTF clinic as I was worried about her weight and after speaking to a woman in the community thought she may be HIV+. The food we have been getting from TTF helps so much. Before we could only feed Gladys at breakfast and in the evening and now she has 3 meals a day and snacks. The food is also helping with her taking her medication which was previously making her sick when she took it without eating.
We have always tried to make her go to school but since she has become sicker she was missing more and more. Now she has gained weight and is managing on her medication better so is going back to school.
The nutritional talks are also helping me in thinking about how to care for Gladys and prepare her meals - I have also been sharing this with my daughters and supporting my other grandchildren with this knowledge.
I am too thankful to this support and I try and encourage the younger mothers in the programme to think about how they are using the food to help their children gain weight and become more healthy like Gladys."
Gladys is just one of the children we are seeing significant changes in due to the nutritional support and education their families are receiving. Without your donations this would not have been possible. So thank you and please watch out for more updates on the children you are helping.