Asale and Mesi were diagnosed with HIV in 2008. For a long time, it was touch and go for six-year-old Mesi as she suffered repeated bouts of pneumonia. After recovering from her third relapse, mother and daughter were finally able to return home to Blantyre. The nearest hospital - the Queen Elizabeth Central, Malawi’s largest - was only five miles away, but poverty meant Asale could only afford the bus fare for her daughter.
Ill health and intensive retroviral treatment disrupted Mesi’s education. Though she attended school occasionally, much of the time she was forced to teach herself or go without. At home, she watched her mother grow weaker and weaker as malnutrition took its toll and a series of infections left her immobile. Though good healthcare is available in Blantyre, Asale simply couldn’t afford the cost of travel. It seemed more and more likely that Mesi would become just one more of the Malawi’s 610,000 AIDS orphans.
Providing immediate, effective relief
Mesi shared her worries with her friends, and - somehow - word of her mother’s plight eventually reached the nearby SOS Medical Centre. We were able to provide immediate, effective support to Asale and Mesi, sending food to fight Asale’s dangerously advanced state of malnutrition, and enough money to fund medical treatment. Mesi too benefited from our support. Today, she attends school regularly, while her mother has enjoyed training and now has a range of employment options before her. Thanks to treatment for her swollen leg, Asale is able to walk again.
Tackling HIV in Malawi
HIV/AIDS remains the biggest health concern in Malawi. More than one in ten people between the ages of 15 and 49 live with the disease, while over 50,000 Malawians lose their lives to HIV every year. Of Malawi’s 1 million orphans, the majority have lost their parents to AIDS, and SOS Children does its best to care for as many of these children as possible.
But with the right care, AIDS need not be a killer. Our family support work in Malawi is largely targeted towards the delivery of effective protection for children and families affected by HIV. We provide healthcare to parents like Asale so that children need not experience the trauma of losing their mother. We also help these families gain employment opportunities through training and guidance, providing a degree of independence and the means of a better life.