Liswati teens who are battling HIV gather together to learn from knowledgeable leaders and to support each other at The Luke Commission’s Miracle Campus.
Recently, 24 young people spent a Saturday afternoon together, as part of TLC’s new Teen Club started three months ago. Four teens were new to the group that is expanding each month, not only in numbers but also in commitment to a healthy life.
|Name tags and chairs with lessons and supplies are set up for each teen before they
arrive on the Miracle Campus.
The teens are greeted and treated as valuable guests at The Luke Commission campus. Everything is provided for them, from nametags and writing supplies to lunch and transportation to and from their homesteads.
|The lesson this week is about how to make sure they take their medications during holidays and school breaks.|
“I love in their minds that the medications they take every day are their lives, their very lives,” said Delisile, TLC staff leader. “They remind each other that they must adhere to their ART (anti-retroviral treatment) regimens.”
In Eswatini, the school year is coming to a close and extended holidays are beginning. This time poses special challenges for HIV+ teenagers.
|TLC staff members encourage teens to participate. And they do!|
Therefore, this month’s lesson and discussion centered on how the young people can visit relatives and stay in homes other than their own and still take their medications on time every day.
Following the lesson, the teens broke into groups of four or five and came up with their own solutions to adhere to their ART regimens during the holidays.
|There’s much to dance and sing about in these young lives, as the teens take responsibility for their health.|
“I was touched when one young man said they must all preach about the advantages of the medications,” said Nhlakanipho of TLC. “He said they must feel free to share their positive status with friends and not be scared.”
|Each teen suggests his or her own way to cope with HIV treatment while in the homes of relatives or friends.|
Another teen stressed taking the tablets whenever he left home, and to make certain he had enough tablets if his family decided to stay away longer.
|It’s time for lunch and laughter.|
One young lady said she would ask the elder in the home she would visit to remind her of the time, when she needed to take her medications.
Singing and dancing and laughter followed the serious section of the Teen Club gathering. The young people ate lunch together, encouraging each other to come again the next month.
|Gathering together, these teens learn and, in turn, teach their families. One mother wrote TLC: “My daughter explained everything that was happening at Teen Club. My heart was full of joy, and happiness was written in her face.”|
“Thank you for inviting us to be with you,” said another teen as she left for home.
The group is open to anyone ages 14 to 19 who receives his or her ART regimens through The Luke Commission.
“It’s one of my favorite times of the months at TLC,” said Delisile. “These young people inspire me.”
by Janet Tuinstra
PS A couple weeks after the above story was written, 60 HIV+ teens were asked, and came, to the Miracle Campus for a special fun day, just for them.
|A mother said: “I knew my status longtime, including for my daughter, but was scared to accept it, disclose to my daughter, and start treatment. When you visited my area and counseled me, I started taking medications but was still fearful for my daughter. Now we talk, and she learns from her teen club.”|
|TLC team leaders, like Delisile, spread enthusiasm. A thank you note came to the team: “I just want to pass my thankfulness to the whole team who is supporting and giving courage to our kids. I had been getting a lot of questions from my daughter about her HIV status, but you brought all the answers to her. I want to share these from my heart.”|
|These teens stayed overnight on the Miracle Campus and then participated in
a whole day of fun together. It was a party, for sure.