November 30, 2010
By Zaida Bastos
Filandia David lives in the neighbourhood of Pedreira in the Malema district of Mozambique. Filandia is 9 years old and is an HIV orphan. When Filandia’s parents were still alive, they were constantly sick and were eventually diagnosed with AIDS. Unfortunately, they did not have access to anti-retroviral medications (ARVs) because the local hospital did not have them. Both her parents died of AIDS when she was six years old. Her grandmother, Filomena Faria, became her guardian and takes care of her.
Filandia herself has had developmental health issues and been constantly sick all her life. Her grandmother took her to several traditional doctors and paid for expensive treatments they recommended. Despite this, her health continued to deteriorate. When she was seven, Filandia got so sick that her grandmother lost all hope that she would survive.
A neighbour suggested that she contact SALAMA, a community health organization and PWRDF partner. When Filomena brought Filandia to SALAMA, she met Helena Manue. Helena is a Community Health Educators that received training through the Community Health Program funded by PWRDF and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). She took Filandia to the nearest health centre where she was tested for HIV. When it was confirmed that she was sero- positive, Filandia received the appropriate treatment and was given anti-retroviral therapy.
Helena Manuel used knowledge that she acquired during her training to help Filandia and her grandmother to understand the disease. Filandia recovered quickly and is now able to attend school for the first time ever. Helena visits the family periodically to monitor Filandia’s health status, and educate the family on how to manage HIV by improving nutrition and embracing a positive living. The household is also part of a food security program that helps the family to grow fresh vegetables in their garden, an essential part of balanced diet for people living with AIDS. Filandia has also learned how to take her drugs. Her grandmother is very happy because she realizes that AIDS is not a death sentence, and with the proper medication and care the disease can be manageable.