World AIDS Day
– 1 December 2018
A partnership to support a young man living with HIV
Every time the SOS Children’s Villages Zimbabwe team comes to visit Eveliyen Malunga, 66, she bursts into song. She claps her hands and lifts them up to the sky to speak a blessing. The SOS team has been good to her, she says, helping her care for her grandson, Willhamu*, who is HIV positive.
In 2017, almost 36.9 million people were living with HIV, with 1.8 million infected in the same year, according to the World Health Organization. For Eveliyen and Willhamu, HIV has been part of their lives since he was a baby.
Eveliyen raised Willhamu, now 19, from birth, after the death of his mother. At just a few days old, he developed sores all over his body. When she washed him, fluids would ooze from the wounds.
“How will I raise this child? I cried to God,” says Eveliyen.
She took him to a mission hospital where Willhamu was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He was treated and the wounds healed, but they came back again. Then in 2006, after taking him to different doctors, Willhamu was put on anti-retroviral treatment for HIV and the wounds disappeared.
‘I felt freed’
The SOS team learnt about this family of two from a community representative. Food was the most pressing need for the family, and with Willhamu’s condition requiring a balanced diet the situation was critical. In 2014, the SOS team first supplied Eveliyen with food parcels, and then with health and education support – fully meeting both expenses.
“When the SOS team came to support me I was very happy," says Eveliyen. “I felt freed.”
Willhamu says his grandmother cares for him with all her heart. He is also satisfied with the help they are receiving from the SOS team, which includes routine visits to offer support. “I am happy when I see them come to our home,” he says.
Willhamu has had HIV since birth
A young man with dreams for the future
The SOS family strengthening team has partnered with health providers so Willhamu and Eveliyen can receive treatment, and also get medication from a private pharmacy when the need arises.
There is a local clinic about three kilometres from where Willhamu lives with a CD4 white blood cell-counting machine that was donated by SOS Children’s Villages. People living with HIV come to this health centre to check their viral load every month and to have medication changed if need be. Whenever Willhamu visits the clinic, the SOS team receives a monthly report from the facility indicating his health status and that of other participants. This is their way of closely monitoring his progress.
And with Willhamu’s nutritional needs on her mind, Eveliyen breeds her own indigenous chickens for eggs and meat.
“I think about Willy’s future and I dream of seeing him grow up and complete school, be employed so he can take care of me as I have cared for him,” says Eveliyen.
Willhamu says that one day he wants to be a builder and manufacturer of ceramic plates. “That is what is in my heart,” says Willhamu. “I am resilient and I hope this partnership between the SOS family strengthening team and gogo [grandmother] will help me achieve my dreams.”
*Name changed for privacy protection