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: