Saving the Next Generation: Children Born Into HIV
They arrive in a world where they’re shunned, persecuted, and sentenced to a future without hope. The threat of disease and rejection chokes their potential before they’re even old enough to comprehend it. But one community in Nzara is changing this landscape, stopping the cycle of illness and poverty facing children born into HIV.
In 2004, Comboni Missionary Sisters created a space where children born into HIV could be cared for away from the stigma and abandonment of society. Through healthcare, nutrition programs, and education, the program raises a skilled and informed next generation. And importantly, they halt the perpetuation of HIV from parents to children for future generations.
“My appreciation goes to those who sponsored my education, gave me encouragement, care, and love.”
– Richard Tambua
RESCUING VULNERABLE CHILDREN
If left untreated, HIV impairs a child’s immune system’s ability to fight off common infections as mild as an ear infection. Children of HIV exhibit low energy, delayed growth and development, persistent fevers, weight loss, and ultimately failure to thrive. They may also suffer from enlarged livers, lung infections, kidney problems, memory and concentration challenges, and develop tumors. Without treatment, they easily fall victim to hepatitis, meningitis, or pneumonia, which their bodies can’t fight off.
Here at-risk children are identified so they can be connected with the vital treatment they need to survive. Follow-up checkups ensure the children’s medicines are being administered consistently and confirm the children are receiving two meals a day – a key factor to keep the child’s viral load in check.
But the organization goes beyond food programs and healthcare. It provides long term solutions. Each year, school fees are provided for up to 400 orphans and vulnerable children from grades K-8. Some of these students go on to high school and even universities. These children born helplessly into HIV would never have an opportunity to go to school or achieve higher education otherwise.
RICHARD’S SUCCESS STORY
Richard Tambua’s story demonstrates this lifechanging impact that helped him escape poverty and possibly even his own death. “I am one of their beneficiaries,” says Richard. “I am very grateful for who I am today.”
When he was just a small child, Richard was without hope. He faced devastating health effects of HIV. He was alone and shunned. He couldn’t go to school like other children – or ever hope to earn a living. He had no one, and his future held nothing but suffering. When he was identified as a child victim of HIV and brought into the program, Richard’s whole world transformed.
Richard was connected with lifesaving medical treatment. He received regular medications. He began to thrive from two meals a day. His expenses were covered to start going to school. And when he did, Richard excelled. He graduated from high school, and then went on to Kampala International University in Uganda, where he earned a degree as a clinical officer.
After graduating from college, Richard returned to South Sudan to give back to his own community. He worked with the Christian Medical Missionary Board and was put in charge of a health facility in Sakure. He continues to work as a clinical officer in Basukangbi where he’s in charge of another health facility today.
“My appreciation goes to those who sponsored my education, gave me encouragement, care, and love,” Richard says. “I now have my own family, wife and children, and I am able to cater to their needs. Thank you to all of you who contributed to my success and happiness. God bless you.” Because of this program, lives were changed and the cycle of sickness and poverty was stopped in its tracks. Now Richard is successful and helping others.
A COMMUNITY IN CRISIS
Sadly, this past year was especially difficult as the organization was hit hard by the nation’s economic struggles. Last year an already bleak economic climate worsened due to disastrous flooding that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. Inflation and diminished supply saw commodity prices skyrocket. Now they are struggling to maintain critical activities, including food and nutrition programs children depend on, and jeopardizing the children’s ability to stay in school.
Will you help vulnerable children born into HIV continue to be cared for? This group stands alone to help children struggling in impossible circumstances – circumstances that were thrust on them as innocent victims, creating obstacles they can’t overcome without help.
Your gift will rescue children from lives of poverty and disease, instead giving them healthcare, education, and opportunity. Like Richard’s future that was transformed into one that now gives back to his own community, your help will change a child’s life forever.
Sincerely,Neil A. Corkery President
PS – Please send a gift to help children escape the cycle of sickness and poverty who were born into HIV. Abandoned and rejected, these children have nowhere else to go for help. Tragic flooding and oppressive economic conditions threaten to prevent these forgotten children from being rescued and cared for. Every child deserves a chance.