In August 2014, Tiny Tim and Friends were lucky to have Dr Saydi Chahla from Minesota come to volunteer with us for a month, not only supporting our community outreach programmes but also bringing her medical knowledge and experience to our TTF Clinic. Below she recalls some of the highlights of working with us:
My name is Dr Saydi Chahla and I came to work with Tiny Tim and Friends (TTF) from July 28th to August 26th 2014.
One of my biggest roles at TTF was working at their clinic. This is based in the centre of Lusaka, where the staff see over 20-30 patients in a five hour period. Working alongside one of the TTF clinical officers, I was involved in the care of nearly 250 patients with HIV in the month I was there. This was quite different to my experience at home and I quickly had to adapt to the high volume of patients who come through the clinic.
The clinic itself attracts a diverse patient population who are all challenged with HIV in addition to some other not uncommon problems in Lusaka like malnutrition, infections and poverty. In spite of the challenges they face the patients at the clinic always sweetly ask “How are you?” with a smile. Whilst working at the clinic, I experienced many stories of hardship but one really stuck in my mind.
TTF works with groups of women volunteers in the community to bring patients to the TTF clinic. On one occasion a young child, Angela, was brought to the clinic, out of hours, by one of the TTF volunteers from a difficult to reach compound in Lusaka. Angela was 12 months old but only weighed 5 kg, she was severely malnourished and developmentally delayed. She didn’t make words or babble but she cried and appeared dirty with a full diaper and thin old clothing.
Angela’s mother had died and her father was not involved in her life. She was in the care of her maternal aunts who had other children and limited resources. Angela’s HIV status was unknown and she had never been on ARTs. TTF brought Angela food, tested her HIV status and started her on supplements and the appropriate medications. She was sent home with food to share with the family and followed closely by our social work and medical team. The TTF social work team visited the home and reached out to support the family. They worked together to learn more about their poverty and established a trusting relationship with the family. Angela’s family eventually agreed to move her into an orphanage, a TTF partner, that has the resources to support her and where she will remain as a patient at the Clinic.
I wanted to share this story of just one of the many successes with TTF. The volunteers, TTF team members, families and partner organisations worked together to communicate their concerns and implement a plan leading to the change that gave a child the chance to thrive. I have great pride in Tiny Tim and Friends work and I am so grateful for this month.
To hear more about our volunteer programmes or how you can support the work of Tiny Tim and Friends please visit the volunteer page on our website.