We See Hope in Beatrice
Beatrice* is 14 years old and is a member of one our Kids’ Clubs run by our local project partner, PASADA, in Tanzania. She lives in the coastal region of Mkuranga where there is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
When the PASADA team first met Beatrice, they quickly realised the vulnerability of her situation; she was not attending school regularly and, as a result, she was lonely, isolated and angry. Beatrice is HIV positive, and both of her parents died from AIDS when she was very young. In Mkuranga the majority of support services for people living with HIV/AIDS are designed to meet medical needs. But orphans and vulnerable young people, and their guardians, receive very little support to deal with other challenges, and they can often be stigmatised and neglected.
In our Kids’ Clubs, we provide young people like Beatrice with counselling and support, helping them to work through grief or other traumas. Using activities such as “Tree of Life”, “Crossbridge” and “Memory Book”, the children are encouraged to talk about people important to them that have passed away, to share memories of their family members and to talk about challenges they have overcome. They also talk about stigma and discrimination, child rights and responsibilities and HIV/AIDS to help them to have self-confidence.
When Beatrice joined her local Kids’ Club, at first she did not open up during sessions because she was ashamed and embarrassed. Through emotional and social support sessions with the leaders of the Kids’ Club, however, she began to learn to express herself without being scared and to tell her own story:
“I was so afraid that people could tell my [HIV] status by simply looking at me, I hated being around people and I had very few friends. But through Kids’ Club I have the opportunity to do a lot of activities with other children and it has also given me friends.”
Beatrice will be part of a group of orphaned and vulnerable children who will be joining our Vocational Skills Training Programme in 2018 so she can learn new business skills so she can live independently of her grandmother’s support.
*Name and photo changed to maintain confidentiality.