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World Health Day - SOS supporting families with HIV/AIDS

Celestine and her daughter Gift
Celestine and her daughter Gift

Throughout the world, SOS Children are supporting nearly 400,000 children and families with medical treatments and preventative care. Celestine, from Nairobi in Kenya, is one of these people whose lives have improved with support from the SOS Medical Centre and Family Strengthening Programme.

Celestine is 43 years old and HIV positive. Through the Medical Centre and Family Strengthening Programme in Nairobi, Kenya, SOS Children have helped Celestine to improve her health and her skills, so that she can cope with the disease and give her daughter a better quality of life.

Celestine discovered she was HIV-positive in 1997. A few years later, her husband left her and she and her children were threatened with eviction because they were unable to afford the rent. Her health was rapidly getting worse and she found herself bedridden, unable to meet her basic needs or pay for medical care. As she describes, she had completely given up on hope in life "I was thinking about death every day, I was living from day to day and believed that nothing would change in my life. I had given up hope completely and started giving away all my things to my relatives", she says.

Thankfully, a neighbour had heard of a local HIV support group and suggested that Celestine should attend. Through the group, she was introduced to the SOS Family Strengthening Programme in Nairobi. SOS staff could immediately see how unwell she was and sent her to the SOS Medical Centre in Buru Buru in the north of Nairobi for free treatment straight away. She quickly begin to feel better. "SOS Children were great', she says. "They gave me counselling, nutritional support and health care, and what is most important, they gave me hope. It took me three to four months to regain strength. Then I started thinking that it was not the end of everything if I was HIV-positive."

After completing the course of drugs, Celestine felt stronger. SOS Children supported her to enrol in a tailoring course and donated two sewing machines to help her to establish her business. She now participates in an income-generating project making school uniforms for children in Spring Valley. Operating her own business has improved her confidence and enables her to earn an income to support her family.

Celestine now has a daughter named Gift. Gift was born three months premature, and survived because of the free medical care and formula milk provided by the SOS Medical Centre Buru Buru. Celestine would never have been able to afford medical care privately. "I know that things will get better", Celestine says. "Gift is all my hope for the future but if it hadn't been for SOS Children's Villages, neither of us would be here to tell the story."

For more information about how SOS are supporting families with medical care around the world, see our pages on SOS Medical Centres. The next edition of our newsletter Family Matters will focus on medical care and the lives of the people who we help in our 68 medical centres across the world. You can subscribe to our newsletter here.