Some of you may or may not know that I am spending a couple months in Nairobi, Kenya. The reason for my stay in Africa is to volunteer within medical facilities. I am specalising in HIV testing and counselling for which I did a certified course during the beginning of my stay. I am working at different hospitals at the moment providing free HIV testing for ANYONE who comes to us. 1 in 10 people are infected in the general population, about 53% of drugusers and 27% of sexworkers have the virus. The biggest problem in East Africa is the lack of awarness and knowledge about the disease. HIV is greatly stigmatised and judged by the population due to false information. There are still numerous mothers that give birth to HIV positive children and a great amount of people transmitting the virus due to their lack of knowledge about their status and the seriousness of the virus. On the bright side, Kenya has FREE medication for anyone infected by the virus and it is accessable for everyone who is in need of it. HIV positive mothers can give birth to HIV negative children thanks to the medication, discodent couples can live long and healthy lives without infecting one another. But again, the main problem in Kenya is the lack of knowledge among the population. I have met people here that did not know how HIV could be transmitted; I have met little schoolgirls with the virus who had no idea what it meant to have it and I have seen people being scared of my diagnosis because they still think HIV is a death sentence.
So you may ask; what are you doing Zorka? What I am doing is volunteering at different hospitals educating patients about HIV and the long and healthy life they can live if they take the medication properly. I am also testing anyone who comes in to us and refer them to accurate help if needed. I am also doing outreach programmes on weekends where we go to slums in Nairobi and test school children, their parents etc, and educate them about the risks of transmission.
I recently went to Africa’s second biggest slum called Kibera where I went to a very special school. A Woman called Benta started up this school a few years ago in order to help HIV positive children. She herself is also HiV positive and has been for over 20 years, but as she has been on medication she can leave a long and healthy life. Most of the children at this school are between 4-9, and quite a few of them have the virus. The problem is that their parents are alcohol- and/or drug abusers and they don’t care about giving their children the medicine. Some of them are as young as 3yrs and are constantly sick already... When I visited there was a boy who should have been in primary school is 3rd grade but he didn’t have the funds to buy the uniform, books, shoes etc., on top of this he tales care of his sick brother. Three of us who went to this school decided to sponsor him in going to school. His tuition, books, uniform etc. cost €150!!!! all together. You should have seen the smile on his face.
I am going back to the school in the next week to hold an HIV class for the parents that decided to come, I will also provide them with free testing. I will give them food too, as they wouldn’t come otherwise. Just €10 euros a week would keep these children fed and clean, educating the parents will hopefully result in them giving their children the medicine.
If you feel inclined to either donate or partner with the project I am working on, I would greatly appreciate it! Donations will go to raise awareness and knowledge about the importance of HIV testing through giving financial help to hospitals and schools in need. It is for the better good, and together we can help the world be HIV-free!
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