Coming out of my shell”
A jovial Bill* (Not his Real Name) was born in Otaro Village Homa Bay East Ward nine years ago in family of 4 (two brothers and a sister) to a widow. Bill* is HIV+ with all the rest HIV negative. All are MWENDO project beneficiaries. The mother reports, it was a normal birth and Bill* met all milestones of child growth and development until his third birthday when he fell ill only to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Later both Bill* and his mother tested positive to a HIV test a condition the mother accepted regrettably considering the fact that she remarried to community jater – wife inheritor (a cultural practice within the Luo Community whereby a widow is to be remarried for continuity of the deceased’s lineage). Due to lack of knowledge on anti-natal care, Bill*’s mother never attended any and therefore gave birth at the traditional birth attendants (TBAs). The man later abandoned her and her son whom she is currently taking care of single handedly. Even as she fought to accept Bill*s conditions, she was conscious of his needs as a child thus ranging from healthcare, nutrition, legal support to education. All these proved challenging since she was made to leave Bill* lying on the bed the whole day.
She was forced to leave him at the verandah alone in the harsh weather until she comes back from her menial jobs. She recalls how he fell once while struggling to join his peers during play time, an accident that saw his face bruised and led him to low self-esteem. The shelter is of semi-permanent though with an open verandah and a rocky, non-disability friendly compound. Bill*’s weight also posed a challenge during drug collection and clinic appointments at Nyalkinyi Health Centre which is 8 kilometers from Bill*s home. Thanks to Caritas Homa Bay who linked and supported Bill* with a wheelchair, a provision from the Knights of Columbus to the Diocese of Homa Bay on the 10th day of September, 2019. Bill* was also linked to Education assessment and Resource Centre from where he was linked to St. Camillus Nyabondo special school in EYE (Early Years of Education) – play group. The mother has been supported to establish a kitchen garden which has kales and other indigenous vegetables. She also received emergency fund following her households scores of 6 in CPARA conducted in December 2019. Bill* has made leaps to improvement in life since his mobility is enhanced and today the mother confessed of regularly honored clinic appointments because she doesn’t get weary of the boy’s weight around home and the clinic. The CHV Syprose Acholla, also conducts Direct Observed Ingestion (DOT) among other services offered during home visits. Bill* is currently virally suppressed at 55copies/ml from 32,000 copies/ml previously reported, psychologically he has grown cheery, sociable and he is evidently on the path to independent. He greets the family and household visitors with his signature smile. He is constantly laughing and loves being around his friends and siblings as the wheel chair has enabled him to be more mobile. The mother is also able to do her house chores comfortably without worries. Linkages with the National Council of People with Disability saw him provided registration number that recommended the household for home schooling by a qualified personnel during holidays. This enabled the OVC to be eligible for support from both government agencies and other partners. The mother is pleased with Bill*’s development since his placement in school.