In Tanzania over 160,000 children are currently getting treatment for HIV. The true number of infected children is about triple that. Few of these children understand the disease that they have been saddled with and many are misinformed, neglected or treated poorly at home and school due to stigma. Many people are still dangerously misinformed about HIV/AIDS.
In response, The Baobab Home runs a support group several times per week for HIV positive children ages 6 to 18 in Bagamoyo. The group is called Stronger Together and it was founded by five Social Work volunteers from Sweden in August 2012. It has given joy, purpose and renewal to the kids who participate. We practice dance, swim at the beach, conduct art activities and hold group discussions about stigma, death, infection, school and other issues faced by kids growing up HIV+.
The group is led by George Zacharia who has been living with HIV since 2000. He is a gifted counselor and an excellent big brother to the kids. We serve nutritious meals and fruit at each meeting. Sometimes meetings are held at the home of "Bi Halima" a grandmother who is HIV+ and devoted to the health and well-being of the kids. Other times the kids come for a visit to our farm. Through generous donations the kids now own their own (pregnant!) cow and several goats which serve as savings for emergencies and school fees.
The basic program is being sponsored by the Swedish women who got it started, but we are always in need of more help and donations of medical supplies. Kids with HIV are prone to opportunistic infections such as skin fungus, and pneumonia and their medicines can be expensive.