Imagine living in a one room house, with 10 people, surviving on one meal a day - this is the reality for Joyce, a 9 year old child registered at the TTF. Joyce was found in a bar with her Mother, Miriam in August 2015. Margaret, our community volunteer, (Pictured on the right below) was concerned with Joyce's malnourished appearance and approached her mother. After a long conversation, Miriam confirmed that both she and Joyce were HIV+ but neither of them were currently on treatment, and after counselling by Margaret consented for Joyce to be brought to the TTF Clinic, where we discovered she weighs only 12kgs, and was suffering with an all over body rash and TB.
Joyce's family situation is complex, her mother Miram (pictured left below), has alcohol abuse issues, and upon visiting the family home our social work team discovered that Joyce's grandmother, who lives in the family home, was bedridden and seriously ill with TB.
Due to malnutrition Joyce is always sick and unable to go to school. Miriam, the primary wage earner for the family, never went to school and therefore is unable to secure regular employment. Lack of income for the household means food for the family is scarce. The lack of food perpetuates Joyce's malnutrition - they are stuck in a cycle of poverty.
Because their financial situation is so unstable they are unable to afford the subsidized K20 ($2) per month needed to access clean water. They draw water from a shallow ground well which was dug by the community in the compound, and is contaminated by drainage and sewer water, causing them to often suffer with diarrhoea. All of the family members sleep in one room, there is no bathroom and they use a pit latrine, which is shared by over 30 other people.
Supporting a child like Joyce is complex, her entire family needs medical support - her health is a great concern but in order to cure her TB, we also need to cure her grandmother; in order to help Joyce with HIV medication we also need to register her mother into the TTF Clinic to help her with her own adherence; to ensure Joyce gains weight we need to provide her family with nutritional education and support.
Both Miriam and her mother got pregnant and had children when they were teenagers. They weren't offered the opportunity to get a full time education but there is still a chance for Joyce.
Joyce's story is not that different to many of the other children we see at the TTF Clinic and in the compounds around Lusaka. But we can change things so that Joyce doesn't follow the same cycle of poverty that her mother and grandmother are stuck in. By supporting her health, nutrition and social well being of her family we can help her to get healthy, gain weight, go back to school and get the education that she rightly deserves.
In order to help Joyce, her family and the many other complicated cases at the TTF Clinic we need your support.