Site visits with Jake Glaser in Kilimanjaro region

After participating into the Children Psychosocial Forum in Arusha, three adolescents from AGPAHI supported clubs i.e. Justine Sylvester (Kambarage HC), Rachel Njau(Shinyanga RRH) and Frank Christopher (Nassa HC) joined Jake Glaser for site visits in Kilimanjaro region. The group visited Ariel clubs at Kibosho Hospital and KCMC Hospital. The trip was organized by our sister organization Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (EGPAF).

Upon arriving at Kibosho Hospital, our adolescents met more than 20 children and adolescents who belong to the Ariel club. They introduced themselves, mingled and blended well with their fellow peers who are in the same age group and same health status. The most interesting part was to hear about Jake Glaser’s story – the fact that he has the same health status as Ariel club children and carries on with his life like everyone else, they were inspired! Jake admitted that at times he faced some challenges when growing up but he focused on doing things he loves and looking at life on a brighter side. He never allowed the challenges to pull him down.

Jake dancing with Ariel club children at Kibosho Hospital Care and Treatment Centre(CTC) after receiving a Maasai blanket (a present from the facility).

Jake Glaser, first right on the high table listening to a song that was prepared by children at Kibosho Hospital. Next to him is Jeroen van’t Pad Bosch, EGPAF’s Tanzania Country Director.

 Later on, the group visited the Child Centered Family Care Clinic (CCFCC) that provides care and treatment services to children and families living with HIV/AIDS at KCMC Hospital. The uniqueness of this CTC is the fact that it can serve children and families under one roof. This model CTC ensures that clients receive services such as primary and specialty medical, care and treatment, prevention of mother to child transmission, social services and home based care. All these services are provided under one roof in the same facility.

Adolescents at CCFCC were excited to meet with Jake Glaser. They are talented, confident with high sense of self-awareness. They performed music and drama portraying a message that it is possible to achieve your dream/s if you believe in yourself. Furthermore, testimony was given by one of the club member who is currently in medical school with an ambition to become a medical doctor – all through his life he has been working hard and believing in himself. So he is looking forward to serving other people in the community upon completion of his degree. Jake urged children and adolescents at the club to have fun, enjoy and live life to the fullest. He went on to say, “life is not only about taking medication but also enjoy and embrace each day as a gift”.

Justine Sylvester, from Kambarage Health Centre (HC) was excited to meet fellow adolescents and was inspired by their testimonies and performance. He said “from this trip I have learnt that I should never lose hope in life…even though I am HIV positive I still have a right to live and do all the things like other people. I will stay focused and pursue my dreams”.

 

                                    From left to right: Dr. Gileard Masenga -KCMC Executive Director dancing along with Rachel, Frank, Justine and Health Care Workers 

 

                                            From left to right: Nurse in charge at CCFCC, Rachel Njau and Jake Glaser dancing with the youth at the CCFCC .

Meeting with Jake Glaser in Dar

After the completion of the Psychosocial Forum in Arusha, AGPAHI management had an opportunity to meet with Jake Glaser in Dar es Salaam. Throughout the discussion Jake revealed a lot of positive attitude which is inspirational to young people who are still struggling with accepting their HIV positive status. He said, “being HIV positive is not a death sentence, think of the positive side of it’. He acknowledged that HIV has given him the opportunity to live a life that he wouldn’t have lived. Jake is happy and thankful to meet incredible people who are carrying on the legacy of his mother and sister. Furthermore, he added…”Elizabeth and Ariel are teaching us that dedication to your passion can make a huge change”.

 AGPAHI team together with Jake Glaser 

Reflection of the forum

While attending the Children Psychosocial forum earlier this month, Jake met a lot of children and adolescents from different African countries, Tanzania included. He shared his life story and sensed that his story has inspired many of the children and adolescent in the forum. Despite the language barrier, and different contextual background yet he could still feel the connection to the children and there was a mutual feeling of understanding what they are going through. He urged the young people to always believe in themselves, reduce self-stigma and always look at life positively. He inspired them with his favorite slogan “I am strong/tough” with a tough punch on his chest.

Rachel Njau from Shinyanga RRH said “after listening to Jake and spending some time with him in Arusha and Moshi, I have learnt that good adherence is important to accomplish one’s life goals…. I look at Jake Glaser today, he is healthy, strong with a lot of positive energy”, I am inspired!

Frank Christopher from Nassa HC, learnt that challenges facing adolescents in the rural areas are almost similar to challenges facing adolescents living in other countries. From the forum, common challenges that were shared included early pregnancy, early marriage, child labour and inaccessibility of social services such as education.

One of Jake’s hobby is water surfing. He likes being in water mainly because his mother, “My  mother  was very adventurous” he said, She loved  in the ocean (swimming and boat cruises) but also he  also equates the aroma of   the salty ocean water  like being close to a mother’s womb. Thus, the ocean is a place that rekindles the  strong connection that he  had with  his late mother.

Jake giving an emotional childhood story of his late sister, Ariel – through pictures 

About the Psychosocial children clubs (Ariel clubs)

Ariel Clubs have been initiated by AGPAHI in various health facilities located in AGPAHI supported regions. The clubs are named after the daughter (Ariel) of pediatric AIDS advocate “Elizabeth Glaser” to support children aged 6-17 years of age who are living with HIV. Ariel clubs were first established in the year 2011 with 24 clubs retaining 635 children into care in Shinyanga and Simiyu regions. The process involved to have separate clinics days for children. Initially, the practice was, all clients received services on the same day (i.e. adult and children altogether). The facilities were therefore advised to set a separate day to attend the children and provide psychosocial support.Health care workers were oriented on how to establish and run Ariel clubs at their respective facilities. Formal trainings on adolescents and youth friendly health services were also provided. As from October 2016, this initiative was rolled out to Mara, Mwanza, Geita and Tanga (AGPAHI new regions) so as to retain as many children as possible into care.  Children who belong to these clubs are aged from 6 years to 17 years.

Objectives of children clubs

  1. To retain children on care, improve adherence to medication and support one another.
  1. To get health education which will enable them stay on treatment and prevent transmission of the virus to their own future partners or children.
  2. To address psychological and clinical needs of children so as they may continue living healthy positive lives.
  3. To groom children so as they become peer educators to educate their peers.

*Sincere appreciation to our sister organization, EGPAF for their continuous cooperation and teamwork.

 

Story written by Jane Shuma and Gloria Macha 

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