Does a HIV-infected child have the right to schooling?
In January 2012 I was at a meeting about schoolbooks and furnitures at Lyma Center in Kenya when a boy who about 8 years old with a lot of tears in his eyes was brought in by a teacher. The boy was born with the HIV-infection. His mother was dead and the boy lived in the slum near Lyma Center with his father who is also infected with HIV. The father was married again and his wife did not want the boy living with them because HIV is taboo in Kenya.
The teacher wanted Jambo Shule to help the boy to a better life. I really wanted to help but HIV-infection is not one of Jambo Shules focus areas I did not know what to do. I was caught a bit off guard because I was there for a different reason. We talked about possibilities and if it was worth helping. It sounds bad and it is but the reality is that often children only live for 10 years after they have been infected in Kenya. In Denmark you can live normally with the infection if you get medicine but in Kenya a lot of other factors come in play such as the amount of food,malaria and other infections are a big dilemma. Food and vitamins is important for all children but especially for a child with HIV because they need it to fight infections.
I did not know how to help the boy and I had to say no because of the limited funds in Jambo Shule. This was not easy with a crying child in front of me. I could not let go of this boy after the meeting because I wanted to help where possible but not because he was HIV infected. However, Jambo Shules help is only be given to pre-selected children and not because of their sickness. My guilt conscience bothered me so I called my volunteers in Jambo Shule Denmark and asked them to find out if there was a way to help the boy. My volunteers found a project that helps HIV-infected children for free in the vicinity of Lyma Center. The boy is now getting help through this project. This means he has excess strength to go to school and play with his schoolmates.Lyma Centers headmaster writes once in a while and tells me about the boy. This makes me happy. I do not know the boys name nor do I want to. If I meet him again I would not recognise him and thats how it is supposed to be. He does not need to feel that he gets special treatment or he is on exhibition. He needs to feel like other children. He is one of the 130 children that Jambo Shule has helped to a better life in the slum. Tall, small, thick, thin, with or without HIV.
I see this as one of Jambo Shules success stories and all I can do is to say thank you to all of you who are supporting Jambo Shule. Without you it would not be possible to make "a small difference in a big world".
Yours sincerely Jean