Three times a week, we fraternize and help the children on the ALG HIV Centre in Manjague (Chokwé). This day centre on the grounds of the Santa Luisa Marillac School receives 31 sick children. Some have HIV/AIDS and some have tuberculosis. Here they receive medication, adequate meals and the healthcare that most of them lack at home, allowing them a healthier more dignified life.
Today we chatted with the mother of a girl attending the Centre and she told us her own experience on the programme. Let’s call the girl Maria, for her privacy.
Maria is 6 years old. She lives with her mother and uncle. Her father is constantly absent as he works in South Africa, tough he is visiting the family over this period. When Maria was just 3 years old, she had a persistent cough that would only be relieved by drinking water. When the doctor told the family she would need to undergo surgery, they realised they would never be able to afford it.
As time passed, the little girl started suffering from bloating all over her body. Maria was a shy girl with sociability issues and limited access to a decent diet. Over the period when she was feebler, she would eat at most 3 eggs a day and nothing else. She was living in South Africa at the time.
In 2010, returned to Mozambique, Maria started suffering from blisters all over her body. The parents took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with and prescribed with medicines for “tuberculosis” [often in the region, the social stigma against the disease leads to diagnostics of HIV as more acceptable “tuberculosis”].
In September 2014, and while at the hospital, she meets Sister Esperança, one of the Vicentine nuns also dedicated to running the SLM School project. The Sister took care of all the paperwork and Maria was enrolled at the SLM HIV Centre in Manjague for appropriate care. Unfortunately, in December of that year, Maria moves back to South Africa. The results are not good… New health problems start showing up – mouth issues with rotting teeth and swollen gums. The Sister sends her syrup through her grandmother and things temporarily improve.
In April 2015, the family realises it is too difficult to keep sending for medicines for Maria. The girl’s health is rapidly deteriorating and the family decides to return to Manjangue in Mozambique for good. Maria re-joins the HIV centre on a permanent basis.
Since then, her medication is administered without fault every single day. Her mother gladly boasts “sometimes, at the prescribed schedule, it is even her that reminds me of the medicines. She is so much healthier, a bit chubby and so happy!”. Anther excellent result of her attending the SLM HIV centre is that Maria learned to speak the official language Portuguese [many of the poorer locals speak the Gaza dialect changana, not used in schools]. According to her mum, Maria cannot say a full sentence in changana anymore without adding a Portuguese word in the middle. Maria’s mum is very happy to see her sick child so healthy these days.
“She returns home very happy, has made many friends and became very dedicated to school. She comes home and even starts studying by her own free will!”