This is a narration about a male teen Madalitso* from Chirumba Community Hospital in Karonga, aged 16 who has been living with HIV from birth. His parents died when he was at a very young age, and he was then taken to live with this granny, who later passed away when he was only 11. Having no one to live with, he was taken by a distant relation from the father’s side. While living with this uncle, he got very sick and went to the hospital, where they discovered he was HIV positive.
Living with his status was a challenge. The uncle did all he could to help Madalitso go through the process of disclosure and to maintain good adherence to his anti-retroviral treatment (ART), but because Madalitso still had alot of questions that were unanswered, he decided to quit his medication and quite attending school. In 2014 Baylor visited Chirumba Community Hospital to discuss starting an adolescent program that deals with adolescents living with HIV. The hospital was interested, and a training was done for healthcare personnel and community volunteers that conduct the activities with the adolescents. In October 2014, Baylor conducted the first training and Chirumba’s first Teen Club. The Teen Club mentors identified Madalitso as an adolescent with HIV that might benefit from the program, and they decided to invite him to the programme as a way of giving him hope and encouraging him to re-start his medication.
When Madalitso was introduced to the programme, he became very motivated. As a result, he started taking his medication again. He got a lot of hope after he saw his fellow teens living positively, happily and healthy. He grew to understand that living positively was not the end of life. At the beginning of 2015, Baylor went to Chirumba Teen Club to introduce a programme on nutrition to the Teen Club teens and staff. By this visit, Madalitso had managed to enroll back to school like any other kid, without facing any challenges such as discrimination. Baylor staff visited Chirumba Teen Club again in March for a mentorship support visit, and everyone noticed that there was a great improvement ever since the nutrition programme was introduced. Madalitso has gained weight and he knows all the food groups. Ever since he started eating properly, most of the sores (blisters) he had on his body are disappearing. The food is helping him to be strong and healthy, especially with eating a variety of foods from all the food groups.
Being a member of Teen Club has helped Madalitso be a happy boy again. Seeing his fellow friends has given him hope, and he always feels at home at Teen Club. Teen Club is like another home to him, because he gets to play and be happy like a normal family should be. He is also able to keep all his clinic appointments and is kept up to date with new information and helpful tips from the mentors, fellow teens and hospital attendees. Teen Club has really played a big role in moulding his life back together.
*the name has been changed for confidentiality purposes