Dear Forum

HIV is not a health problem it is one of the major social problems. It is creating the more social disturbance in the children and their families. I am working for 5 years with HIV/AIDS affected and Infected children. I observed so many case studies of the children in HIV/AIDS sector.

Due to AIDS, children become Orphans. It is estimated that more than 20 million children, bellow 18 years have been orphaned as result of AIDS. This number is increasing day by day in the communities, states and national scenarios.

Children lost their both/single parents and are suffering from emotional trauma, attached stigma & Discrimination, deprived of basic needs (such as food, shelter and cloths) health, education and having sibling separation. Children lost parental love, care, affection, and support and depend on others such as grannies; relatives, hostels, homes, friends, communities and foster families. Approximately 50-60% AIDS Orphans is living with their aged (65 to 70 years) grannies.

A few of the foster families, relatives and neighbors are exploiting the children and snatching their properties and are being thrown out to the streets. As a result Children had to stop their education and resulting in emergency of child headed families, child labour, child workers, street children, mediators between the lovers, mentally retard, commuting anti social elements ,committing suicide and a few are addicted alcohol, Gutkas, drugs, going to pornographic movies.

If AIDS orphan is a girl, she has more risk than boys. They can easily fall in Love or depend on a one; it leads to trafficking and sex work. If the AIDS Orphan is a HIV positive nobody comes forward to provide care and support and they are under malnutrition and passing away. This is the current situation of the AIDS orphan.

This is not for all the AIDS Orphans, but majority of the AIDS Orphans are having the same. We need to develop the intervention for the AIDS Orphans in the SACS Programmes. Till now there is now focused intervention for the AIDS Orphans. If we continue the same Programmes we may not see the good result in HIV/AIDS affected families. The families may be in the same contests.

With Regards
Abraham Mutluri
Andhra Pradesh
India

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Comment by Abraham Mutluri on March 4, 2009 at 11:23am
Dear Usa Duongsaa

Good Morning

I am very much thankful to your appreciation and encouragement that is most helpful to me to write some more blogs in AIDS Competence Programme.

Duongsaa I read you message and case studies. Yes exactly right, the AIDS orphans problem is increasing day by day in the communities. Some times / places that type of discrimination is also there.

I observed some positive points also there -------
• Few of the children not interest to leave their homes, after death of their parents. Because children have the emotional attachment with that home. They feels that house was build by my father and mother for me, so we don’t leave from here.
• At the time of sibling separation the elders boys or girls are not accepting the sibling separation and they are drop out from the schools and taking the responsibilities of the families and changing like child headed families

I am also supporting you that not easy to work with children, particularly infect/affected children. But need to start the child friendly programmes for them. Child to child approach and support groups’ concept will give the more support to AIDS Orphans issues.

I am also thinking some more discussions and sharing are need on this topic.

With Regards

Abraham Mutluri
Andhra Pradesh
India
Comment by Usa Duongsaa on March 4, 2009 at 9:29am
Dear Abraham,

Thank you for your post. You have touched on a very serious problem which indeed requires serious discussion and both short- and long-term strategies. Last week I talked with several children in lower-northern Thailand, some of whom were infected and some were affected, and there were some heartbreaking stories, as usual. One girl, aged 13, said a school friend had punched her in the face the day before and when she told the teacher about it, the teacher only said "Your friend was just teasing you". Another girl, aged 10, said her friends sometimes said bad things to her ad she just kept quiet about it for fear that, if she told the teacher and the teacher punished them, they would do worse things to her. The same girl, when asked what she would ask for if a fairy gave her 3 wishes, mentioned: her mother being healthy, getting a car for her mother so that she could get to places, and getting a house with space for a stall so that she could sell vegetables to earn some money. The same girl (who was on ARV), when asked whether she wanted to ask any questions herself, came straight on with 2 questions that got me to swallow hard before trying to find the right words to answer: could you tell me from whom I got this virus? Could you tell me whether this virus is curable and how I can treat it? And then there's another girl, aged 9, with the saddest eyes I have ever seen, whose first wish from the fairy is being able to become a doctor so that she can treat her mother. And a quiet boy, aged 12, who couldn't think of what he wanted to become in the future, and couldn't think of a single thing he wished for. And they both admitted they had some deep concerns they never told their mother, teacher, or anyone (me included). And there were others..

There are so many negatives in these stories, as in other stories and incidents I'm sure all of us have come across. But I think there's also the positive side to it. In those sad eyes, words, answers and questions, I think there're also a lot of love, care and hope that were silently expressed. I think the heartbreaking part is that the children have so much capacity for love and care and forgiveness, and because of that they suffer because they care and can't express it for adults to understand or don't want to express it for fear of upsetting those they love. Such human paradox! I guess that's why it's not easy to work with children, particularly infect/affected children, especially in communities where there's still much stigma and discrimination. But we all have to try.

On the other hand, there are quite a number of communities with interesting and inspiring responses on the issues, conducted by the people, the health centers, the NGOs, the local government, the schools. I hope other friends will come and share the experiences and/or the resources here. I'm adding my powerpoint here to share some; hopefully the file goes through but it not i will find other ways to post it later.

Keep sharing and working, and best of luck!

UsaCommunity Support to Asian Children -MEX 08.ppt
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on February 24, 2009 at 9:04am
Dear Abraham,

Thank you for sharing your experience and observations with AIDS Orphans. I can really feel that you have a big heart and that you care for children whether they live with HIV or not.
The issue of AIDS orphans is a hard reality we face today, there is no doubt about that. You describe the challenge well.

Of course many NGOs contribute greatly in improving the situation of millions of people around the world. They save lifes and give hope, care and support. But we, NGOs, institutions and even the government, cannot solve all communities' problems. This is also a reality.

What we, members of the Constellation for AIDS Competence, propose is a different but complementary way to respond to the issue of HIV. We, as facilitators, stimulate communities to take ownership of the issue of HIV. We help them to see their own potential, by focussing on their strengths rather than the problems.
We Stimulate and Support the community to take action, by Appreciating their strengths, Listening to them and Learning from them. What we learn, we Transfer in our own context and in this way we stimulate people to take more action.

Many of us have experience with communities who were transformed through SALT.

Just a few examples...
John-Pierre works with street children in the Philippines and stimulates them to take action by themselves. Many of them now go back to school and move out of selling their body...
Prabakar told the story about sex workers in India who set up their own savings fund.

It might be interesting to see who else has experience with AIDS orphans in this community, or with reducing discrimination... so that relatives of these children can take care of them, so that the community can find a way to support its children in a solidary way... sometimes all it takes is to encourage and stimulate them to do it...

Again, thank you for sharing and I hope others can share their experience around AIDS orphans as well...

Laurence

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